Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Recurring motifs in Just Joans' songs

The Just Joans are a truly great band, from Motherwell, they're century's answer to both Pulp and The Proclaimers.

I saw them play at the Betsey Trotwood in London the other day, and recorded them too.

They started some time in the middle of the decade, lead singer David Pope recording a handful of bittersweet bedsit songs in his bedroom on a 1980's tape recorder. When Adam suggested I put out a CD on my bedroom based record label in 2005 and handed me the tape, I had to stop my car cos the songs caught me just there.

They've gone from strength to strength since then, with four releases on London's critically acclaimed indie label WeePop!, every show they play sells out and other bands across the world record covers.

On thing that listeners will notice when careering through the Just Joans' discography is the recurring motifs, the hooks and lines that crop up again and again. Here's a broad summary of these recurring motifs.

Lines from other songs

  • What Do We Do Now? - 20 to 25 (30 to 35 in Smittens version), years passing since you last saw your friends from home
  • Five Beer Bottles - 1 to 5, 5 to 9, beer bottles spinning on the floor and months of fear

Old and Lonely
  • Old and Lonely - When the Just Joans played their debut gig at the Tchai Ovna,their set finished with a cover of The Magnetic Fields' 'Old and Lonely', this cover has made a resurgence in their set more recently. Its a dour song, but fits well with the regular Just Joans sentiment
  • I won't Survive - Contains the line "When I was young my mother told me, not to grow up old and lonely". There seems to be this sense of inevitability in all the songs that you can't fight your destiny, and the protagonist will always end up old and lonely.

  • Coia's Empty - A song about a low key party at Coia's place "cos his folks are in Spain, and drinking in a house is better than drinking in the rain"
  • What Do We Do Now - Years later, when catching up with old friends, the song asks "Do you still see much of Coia? No, he's moved in with his girlfriend". In The Smittens' cover Coia has changed gender and is moving in with his girlfriend.
  • Does he know?

  • Friday Afternoons - "Hey Steven, Where's that pint you owe me?" asked at Glasgow University Union
  • Why are we so lonely, Steven? - New song, not sure of the lyrics

  • Murray - Coia's Empty
  • Jenny - Coia's Empty
  • Grant Kelly - Grant Kelly
  • Rowan - Grant Kelly
  • Coia - Coia's Empty, What do we do now
  • Steven - Why are we so lonely Steven?, Friday Afternoons
  • John - I hear you're the man now John

  • East Kilbride
  • Motherwell
  • The Little Green Shop
  • Glasgow Union
  • Strathclyde Park
  • Bellshill Station
  • London

Here's a couple of other bands covering Just Joans songs:-

The Felt Forum - Five Beer Bottles (Just Joans cover)

The Smittens - What Do We Do Now (Just Joans cover)

There was an Australian mob, Tiny Records, who did a spiffing cover of Back to Highschool on a NotQuiteRocketScience podcast, and here's my own cover of if you don't pull.

manc_ill_kid - If You Don't Pull (Just Joans cover) by manc_ill_kid

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