For nearly ten years the author(s) going by the names Derek and Dave Philpott wrote letters to pop stars querying the lyrics of well known songs. They started to put these on a website that grew in popularity. Then the pop stars started writing back. This book is a compilation of their one hundred best missives. While many respondents appear incredulous at the points the Philpotts raise, they mostly answer in the spirit of the endeavour. The correspondence is pedantically bonkers but amusing.
As an example, Derek Philpott writes to Lindisfarne explaining in some detail why he must decline the invitation to have a pint or two, and pointing out that fog cannot belong to one person only. In response it is explained how ownership of airbourne precipitation in the Newcastle area has been claimed over the years. Should Derek wish to meet for a drink on a Friday night he is assured:
“Lindisfarne are advocates of responsible drinking, i.e. you have to get your round in”
Many of the letters reference the pop star’s other songs making the book an entertaining challenge for aficionados as they try to place track titles or lyrics.
There is an excellent culinary response from Mark Nevin for Fairground Attraction when Derek explains how a recent dinner party was a resounding success despite not being perfect.
Gerard Casale, founder of Devo, salutes Derek’s astute insight and then states:
“De-evolution is real and you are there on the frontline helping to prove it.”
The answers provided can be as bizarre as the questions asked. Some recipients appear perplexed, others serious if surreal. The Philpotts take the lyrics from bygone hits both personally and literally. Owen Paul is told, since he asked:
“My favourite waste of time in the 80s was standing on the terraces at Brentford, and in the 90s watching England in the Euros”
A precis of the reply would be that time enjoyed is never time wasted. The Philpotts do not state if the football alluded to provided any such pleasure, surely an omission requiring clarification.
Part of the pleasure of reading the letters is remembering the songs under scrutiny. I also enjoyed that the Philpotts ignored all the sexual innuendo and metaphor, demanding elucidation of scrutable meanings.
Several of the pop stars mention that the letter received was not the first. One requested:
“please lose my address”
This is a book that should be dipped into and perhaps shared. The format does not change so reading too much at once risks repetition. There are nuggets to be enjoyed from many well known names as well as a few perhaps forgotten despite their songs remaining familiar. Derek Philpott is ‘a character’, in all its meanings.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author(s).