The Meat Of Life by Clem Snide


I’m buying too many CDs. I’m running out of storage space in the tiny room that I have to confine my collection to. Inspired by my friend, Richard, I’ve decided to empty some boxes of old copies of UNCUT and MOJO and yesterday I wondered whether I could use them to store CDs. I pulled out a random CD to see if it would fit, and I stared at it, knowing with 100% certainty, that I had never seen it before in my life. It was “The Meat Of Life” by Clem Snide.

Over breakfast this morning, I told Roo that she had a blood test arranged for next Friday at the same time that we have a grocery delivery. She told me that she didn’t, and the blood test was mine. I scoffed at this and confirmed with her that I had no arranged no such thing.

Sadly, I was wrong on both counts. Looking at my lists of albums purchased each year, I can see that I bought the Clem Snide CD when it came out in 2010. I now have a slight recollection that when I went to my GP a few weeks ago about the digestion problems that have been causing me to lie awake at night, wondering if this was “It” (as Loudon Wainwright sung about on “Lifetime Achievement“), she arranged a blood test for me.

Running to the Internet for support, it was heartening to read that memory lapses are common as we get older and that memory changes are not the same as creeping dementia. The hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age; hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth decline with age; and older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills. My daily mental workout on Wordle, Nerdle, Worldle, Waffle and Herdle are pleasant but also serve a serious purpose. My friend Anne introduced me to an app called “Peak – Brain Training” which contains a large number of different mental activities, most of which I find very challenging.

These lapses in memory are not deliberate, devious or akin to lying. By contrast, yesterday saw the demise of Prime Minister Liz Truss. Over the past few days, the lies coming out of her mouth may well be due to a deteriorating hippocampus but are more likely to be a sign of a slippery, duplicitous personality who is more interested in her own career than serving the country. She said in her leaving speech that she had come into office at a time of great economic instability. While that is true, up to a point, the economy became as unstable as a mattress balancing on a bottle of wine immediately after she started making policy announcements. On Wednesday, she told Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Question Time that she was “a fighter, not a quitter” (a line she stole from Peter Mandelson) but one day later, she appeared to have forgotten this and quit. Her ability to govern became so inept that her office couldn’t even confirm whether or not she had remembered to vote on the fracking bill that may or may not have been a vote of confidence in her government. At one point, it was stated that she had forgotten to vote but the story was later changed to say that she had forgotten to swipe her pass. Whatever that means.

It’s not clear whether the protagonist in “Denver”, from Clem Snide’s seventh album, has simply forgotten about his long-term partner or whether he has a slippery, duplicitous personality. He has met an underage Christian girl in Denver and got her pregnant. Too late, he remembers the wonderful times he has had with his partner, including the times when they lay half naked in the mountains and now he is filled with regret, remorse and self-loathing.

The next track deals with the consequences of the carnage he described in “Denver”. “Stoney” tells the story of a man who attempts to deal with the broken heart that he has brought upon himself, by hiding his feelings. He looks back on his past and asks himself “Am I ever to feel that free again?” Whereas the musical accompaniment on “Denver” is simply an acoustic guitar, on “Stoney”, a piano and drums add a more tense texture. “BFF”, the third track in this trilogy, builds the tempo and intensity into a full-blown rock song. He is having a meal with his partner but wants to forget the past, or at least to ignore his bad behaviour. “Trust me, you don’t want to know how I really feel. I’d like to enjoy this meal. I don’t want to talk anymore.” In some peculiar way, this video seems quite appropriate.

Eef Barzelay’s voice is quite similar to Loudon Wainwright and the way in which he wraps his confessions in humour is also very similar. Clem Snide have released 15 albums and 2020’s, “Forever Just Beyond” was particularly bleak. The final song on that album was “Some Ghost”, and it was an attempt, in a twisted sort of way, to end the album on a positive note. Lead singer and songwriter Eef Barzelay put faith in trusting the good side of him to prevail. He claimed that he wouldn’t rest until “the pain is memorized“; until he found peace with his demons. Wind back 10 years to “The Meat Of Life” and his pain is in the process of subconsciously eating away at him, whilst on the surface, he seems able to conveniently forget about the mistakes he continually makes. The only way he can process this pain is through writing and singing.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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