This Is England: An Essay In Song Form

Julia Cafritz; courtesy of Ecstatic Peace i i

Julie Cafrtiz (right) with bandmate Kim Gordon. courtesy of Ecstatic Peace hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of Ecstatic Peace
Julia Cafritz; courtesy of Ecstatic Peace

Julie Cafrtiz (right) with bandmate Kim Gordon.

courtesy of Ecstatic Peace

I asked my friend Julie Cafritz (of Pussy Galore, STP and Free Kitten) if she wanted to write something for our End of the Decade coverage. Her "assignment" was due over the weekend, and when I didn't hear back from her, I figured her work as a teacher, or her kids, or life in general had gotten in the way. Then, today, she sent me this note:

"I decided to take a different tack, intrigued as I was by your song-in-a-day contest. So I recorded a song; actually, Ollie [Julie's son] engineered my session. He decided he didn't like Mommy's music, so he spent most of the time recording me using my iPhone from another room. I then took his recording and recorded my essay over it — what fit, anyway. It cuts off three-quarters of the way through."

Before I share Julie's song, I wanted to include something else she sent me when I asked her how much time she spends listening to music:

"I have never spent as much time listening to as much music in my entire life as I have in the past six years. I can chalk this up to several factors: 1) Having moved from NYC, I now am part of car culture, which has always been pretty much to my mind the perfect vehicle for listening. I have a good stereo in what is essentially a private soundproof booth on wheels in which to listen to music at ear-splitting volume in a small space — my preferred listening environment. 2) Yes, music is more available through the Internet; not just to illegally or legally download, which of course I do liberally, but also, I can track down stuff like never before. (I try to patronize my locals, but much of the stuff I'm looking for is early- to mid-'70s English stuff.)

"And, most importantly, although I don't want to minimize the importance of 1 & 2, which are huge, 3) is that, since having my children, I have effectively been under house arrest for the past 11 years, and don't even come up for parole for another 12. As my freedom of movement has been severely limited by the realities of motherhood, I look to music to lift me out of my ennui, connect me to my old life and self, define my identity and generally let me rebel like a bratty teenager locked in her room and listening to her stereo loud. Unlike reading or watching a movie, I can listen to music while doing other stuff. And, yes, I do listen to music with my children. My music, not theirs; well, my music is theirs. They are like Gitmo detainees forced to listen to music all day long, repeated over and over again for months at a time (seriously) at loud volumes. They can take it up with their shrinks later."

And now, for Julie's song essay, "This Is England." As she mentioned, it gets cut off toward the end, so the words at the bottom function as the rest of the essay, in written form.

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...after one live show, sometime even before they played their first gig. The NME, Sounds and Melody Maker could hype a different band on a weekly basis, and hype they did. They threw bands big and small at you; so many, you couldn't keep track, and then they would all — big and small — disappear, and it didn't matter. After the English press machine were done with you; after everybody owned your record, saw your gig, your face, your T-shirt, they were sick of you, and rightfully so. And it made it almost entirely impossible for a band to remain unscathed, to stay cool.

I still get excited when I get my "hands" on a new record. But I can tell, even while I'm listening and enjoying it that first time, what fatal flaw will relegate it to the dust heap in a week, a month, a year. Things do move quicker now. And it is because of the thing you are listening and reading this on. That computer, this is England.

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