Tag Archives: 2008

Boo Boo

In the Spring of 2008 when I first heard El Rey, a lot of the album was new to me. I’d heard a few tracks live, notably, ‘I Lost the Monkey’ and ‘Soup’ during a small Scopitones forum group visit to Barcelona. During this time I was going through some difficult personal moments and I felt a little disenfranchised from the band that I loved the most. A lot of the tracks were hard for me to connect to. Even now I’m not sure if it was me or the music that didn’t feel right.

Certainly I know people who love El Rey and everything on it. It ranges from spiky pop to layered anthems. And if there’s one song that gets universal praise it’s the penultimate track on the album, ‘Boo Boo’. As I mention below in one of my questions to David Gedge, It has a gorgeous structure with several different sections that flow organically like the emotions that the narrator goes through during the course of the evening meal. There aren’t many lyrics but what’s there cover lots of nuance and hidden angst.

The creation of the song is described below by it’s co-writer Terry de Castro. It might surprise people, who think of The Wedding Present as David +3, how much creative scope his fellow band members have had right since the beginning. Terry has co-written ten songs over the years for both this band and Cinerama. She still occasionally tours as a member of the band and of course has a music career in her own right – check out her solo work here if you are unfamiliar with it. https://scopitones.co.uk/terrydecastro.

I don’t think El Rey will ever become my favourite album but there are songs and moments that hit the special heights that no one else’s music can. The beginning and end of ‘Boo Boo’ are in that category. I love the hope and expectancy that the intro brings. I love the burning urgency and frustrated desire that the epic closing section ramps up into. There is only one released version of this song. I’d like to hear a well-recorded live version, that captures the power that it has at a gig, one day.

Commentary from David Lewis Gedge (DLG) and Terry de Castro (TdC):

‘Boo Boo’ was co-written with Terry de Castro. What was the sequence of events in the creation of this song?

TdC: When we were writing songs for El Rey, our method was a bit different to what it became later on. It’s more organic now, with someone presenting a riff to the whole group and everyone working on it together in the rehearsal room. But our song writing method back then was quite meticulous and painstaking. We [meaning any band member] would come up with a riff, usually on guitar, and then convert it into MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] using a MIDI-compatible keyboard and then send it off to David. He would work with it and manipulate it, to put together a song, and then we would transfer the piece back into a guitar / bass / drums arrangement. For ‘Boo Boo’, I’d come up with a verse and chorus riff on guitar in Los Angeles and then I sent it to David as an MP3 and in MIDI form. He then brought the semi-arranged piece back to the whole group which, at the time, was Graeme [Ramsay] and Chris [McConville]and me, and we worked on it at a rehearsal room in Scotland. Since Chris was the guitar player then, I had to teach him how to play the actual guitar riff, which was initially a lot faster and much poppier. It sounded okay, but we started to wonder how it would sound slowed down, and it was a lot better, so we made quite a perky little pop song into a slow, epic… masterpiece. Ha, ha! No, seriously, it’s much easier to make a song sound good when you slow it down, for some reason, but this one really did lend itself to a slower and heavier approach. And we just kept heaping sections onto the ending, loving the slow build-up to the final crescendo. It’s great fun to play live for that very reason.

Is there anything you can say about the inspiration behind the lyrics? I love the details in lines like the “waiter’s stacking the chairs”; is this something experienced, observed or just made up?

DLG: As usual, it’s a mixture of all those things. I used the idea of the waiter stacking chairs in the background because I felt that it was quite cinematic.

I’ve never heard ‘Boo Boo’ used as a term of affection but maybe I’m the only one. Do you know anyone who uses this name or is it just your tribute to the old Yogi Bear cartoon?

DLG: I have heard someone using Boo Boo as a term of affection, yes, but the fact that it’s a Hanna Barbera cartoon character – although they spell it Boo-Boo – was always going to appeal to me and my never-ending desire to include those kinds of pop culture references in the songs!

The song structure is very interesting. It clocks in at nearly six and a half minutes, starting with a half-minute, glorious, crashing intro, like the excitement leading up to a date. The sections that follow have very sedate verses and anthemic choruses. At 3:45 we move into a ramping instrumental section that builds and builds and it feels like it will lead to something more but then it ends, almost like the end of a night that one hoped would lead to more and doesn’t. How much do you like song structure to match the emotional feel of a song?

DLG: I don’t consciously try to match the lyric with the arrangement of a song. I write the lyrics towards the very end of the song writing process, anyway, and the structure is usually in place by then. The musical arrangement probably influences the lyric writing in some way but I don’t think I would be able to describe how, because it’s different every time. Anyway, more often than not, I’m more satisfied when a ‘happy’ lyric is teamed with a dark soundtrack, for example. Or vice versa.

What lead to the positioning of this track on El Rey? It has all the hallmarks of a traditional final track but you decided to follow it up with the more atypical ‘Swingers’.

DLG: We have a history of doing that, though, don’t we? Even though we never play encores live, some of the albums have an extra atypical track added on, to follow what would you’d think would be the more obvious LP closer. We have ‘You Can’t Moan, Can You?’ following ‘Anyone Can Make A Mistake’ on George Best, ‘Be Honest’ following ‘Take Me!’ on Bizarro and ‘Hot Pants’ after ‘Catwoman’ on Watusi. I guess you could put it down to non-atypical Wedding Present contrariness!

The delicacies of the studio version are replaced with more power when played live. Are you happier with the studio version or when you play it live?

DLG: Is it that much different?! It’s not meant to be. We usually try to replicate the live version in the studio and listening to the album now that version seems to build nicely. The idea is that the drama heightens throughout the end section as the intensity increases. I think that outro is one of my favourite ever bits of Wedding Present music so I love playing it, even though my part is quite challenging!

Official Lyrics:

Well yes, it’s late; the waiter’s stacking the chairs
But, never the less, just wait; I don’t think he really cares
And if we leave now I’ll be kicking myself all week because we get so few chances to talk just like this
And I would regret just saying: “See you,” because this is something that I really miss
So I aim to detain you for as long as I dare

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Your eyes are glistening as you fill my glass to the brim and, though I despise listening to you talk about him, seeing you being with that man is much better than not seeing you at all
And you can’t leave
Not when we’ve been having such a ball

You just don’t understand, do you?
Boo Boo!
That tonight was all planned because I still love you

You just don’t get it at all, do you?
Boo Boo!
The reason I call is that I still love you

Written and published by Gedge / de Castro [whose publishing is administered outside of the Eire and The United Kingdom by Kobalt Music except for in Canada and The United States Of America, where it is administered by Superior Music].

Studio Version:

1 – El Rey version recorded January 2008  TIME: 6:24

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass) and Graeme Ramsay (drums) Steve Albini & Pete Magdaleno (producers)

 

Live Versions: none

Live:

‘Boo Boo’ wasn’t played live until several months after the release of El Rey. It debuted on 01/09/2008 at the Barfly in Birmingham as the set closer. It stayed throughout the tour that carried on until the end of the year. It continued as a fixture during the next tour in March 2009. it then disappeared from the set for nine years before re-appearing in March 2018 and was played on and off throughout the year with its last time out at the time of writing being 03/10/2018.

Below is a live version by the 2019 line-up of the band as recorded by John Marshall (who as of last night, the 06/04/2019, has now seen The Wedding Present 200 times. Well done Marshall!

Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk

Around 2007 The Wedding Present started previewing songs live that would eventually end up on the album El Rey.  One of which was entitled Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk  and featured the lines: “she spoke a line of Holly Golightly’s from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, she said “Don’t take me home until I’m very drunk””. I loved the song and soon after watched the film to spot the line where the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn said this dialogue. Shock, horror. These words were not what she said in the film. What happened next is explained by David Gedge in his Q&A below. Suffice to say for now, that this was the closest I will ever get to co-writing a song with the master.

To the song itself – it starts with a lovely breathy vocal “The heaven’s were alive with stars” before the rest of the band comes in. The cute, romantic nature of the song is highlighted from the second line referencing the film mentioned above. It’s all coy and delicate and gentle. By the end of the song though the narrator has been dumped again and he looks back realising that ‘love’ for one is just ‘like’ for another.

This could almost be a late Cinerama song with it’s  melodic guitar play courtesy of Christopher McConville. Nothing too extreme, just a playful bit of noise in the bridge but overall this is a story rather than an explosion. Terry de Castro’s beautiful backing vocals end the piece highlighting the painful, possible truth that maybe no two people can ever love one another to the exact same degree

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

How did this song first come about?

DLG: I originally called this ‘Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk’ because it’s a line that Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, uses in the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Or, well, at least I thought it was…

Leigh Hunt, the author of this very blog emailed me to let me know that the line from Breakfast At Tiffany’s was actually “Don’t take me home until I’m drunk. Very drunk indeed!” Leigh thought that I’d changed the quote to make it fit the song but, no, I’d just remembered it incorrectly. Accordingly, I altered the lyric and consequently the title so that it was exactly as it was in the film. On the recording, after the ‘very drunk indeed’ line you can hear the sound of a squeaky-voiced little Japanese toy that we brought back from Tokyo.

What are your thoughts on the song now?

DLG:  I love playing this live. It obviously falls into the ‘poppy’ section of The Wedding Present catalogue, which is why we chose it for a single. But I think it’s a good pop song and has one of my favourite lyrics. My co-writer on this song was Chris McConville [guitar; The Wedding Present, 2006-2008] who’s one of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with and who has a real knack for coming up with some ingenious and catchy tunes.

Going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume you are a massive Audrey Hepburn fan? Is Breakfast At Tiffany’s your favourite of her films? Can you say what it is you like about her?

DLG: Well, I always like a good romantic comedy and Breakfast At Tiffany’s is one of the very best, although it’s totally different from Truman Capote’s original novella, which I also love, but which is considerably darker. And yes, of course, Audrey Hepburn is heartbreakingly cute in it! And there’s a Henry Mancini score, too, which is the icing on the cake…

It’s a pain that feels so real. Telling someone you love them and they reply back that they like you. Has it happened to you? Have you said that to someone else?

DLG: Without going into specifics… of course it’s happened to me! Hasn’t it happened to everyone?!

The song was highlighted on How The West Was Won with an acoustic version. Plus there was also a remix, something you don’t normally do. What was the thought process behind all of that?

DLG: I thought that the song would stand up to the acoustic treatment… they don’t always, it has to be said… so we did that… but then Chris, who’s also a recording engineer, fancied having a go at a remix, too. He called it the ‘Team Wah Wah’ mix after a comment Steve Albini had made during the recording of El Rey. It’s a pretty crazy version.

Any thoughts on the video?  Chris smashed a guitar – real or fake one? You all look pretty bored. 🙂

DLG: Well… it’s pretty boring making a video! You have to mime to the song over and over again, don’t you? It is a real guitar, yes… but just an old cheap one from a second hand shop in Bristol where we filmed the video.

The song sounds Cinerama-y in places and then occasionally a nice squeak of feedback comes out. Did any of this start as a Cinerama song?

DLG: No, it was always a Wedding Present song. We wanted it to build in intensity throughout, though… hence the later overdrive and distortion pedals. I think it sounds heavier when it’s played live.

Nick Hallworth asks: If the Holly Golightly quote was the seed for the whole tale, one wonders how long David Gedge sat trying to think of a rhyme for ‘drunk’. I wonder – did he consult another song telling a tale of relationship discord… ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’? Neil Tennant set the standard by coming up with monk, punk, sunk and junk.  Whereas David somehow managed to weave a tree trunk into the picture!

DLG: Ha, ha. I’ll have to listen to that song. That’s a great title. Well, I always spend ages on rhymes, far too long probably… but I think the trunk one works particularly well in terms of scene setting…

Official Lyrics

The heavens were alive with stars
She pointed out which one was Mars
Lying arm in arm against an old tree trunk
She used a phrase of Holly Golightly’s from ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’
She said “Don’t take me home until I’m drunk. Very drunk indeed!”

We talked about a second date
She said that meeting me was fate
And, though I don’t believe in that crap, I said “Yes”
We both knew where the night would end
But when we kissed, I won’t pretend, I still shook with apprehension, I confess

And then I said “I could fall in love with you”
But, as I recall, she said “I like you too”

And that little word was the warning sign
That little word meant she’d never be mine, as I discovered the next day
A text on my phone saying:
“I don’t know whether I mentioned him last night, but I’m getting back together with my old fiancé
I’m sorry, by the way”

And, when I think about that night, I wonder if perhaps I might not have done every single thing I could
But, deep down, I know I was blind; she just used me to make up her mind
But if I had to do it all again, I would

And then I said:  ”I could fall in love with you”
But, as I recall, she said “I like you too”
Yeah, I could fall in love with you
But as I recall, she said “I like you too”

Written and published by Gedge / McConville. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV.

Studio Versions:

1 – El Rey/How The West Was Won version recorded January 2008  TIME: 3:07

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar); Terry de Castro (bass) and Graeme Ramsay (drums) Steve Albini & Pete Magdaleno (producers)

2 – Team Wah Wah Remix (How The West Was Won) TIME3:44

3 – Acoustic version (How The West Was Won)  TIME3:33

Recorded by Ulysses Noriega

Live Versions: none

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Live:

The song was introduced throughout live shows in 2007. Since it’s release on record in 2008 though it’s rarely been played.

Video: (directed by Tim Middlewick)