Being a GOTW – My Two Penn’orth

I don’t know if anyone is really interested in these post-match analyses, especially as a new topic takes off, but here is mine anyway.


Kill All Hippies!!


To a large extent, this was a Project Management job, the kind I used to do for a living once upon a time. There was a definition (songs about the army), a deadline (Wednesday midday) and a Project Board (the RR community): I just needed to scope the size of the task, create a Project Plan, execute it and montor progress. I had the spreadsheet ready to log all the nominations, with columns for suitability, theme, genre, tone and also links to music and lyrics, so it was a question of listening, reading and logging, then sorting and editing. Two lists would then fall out around which I could wrap a narrative. Simples, as they say.

I was determined that the lyrics would drive everything, so I found and read as many as I could, sometimes in preference to listening to whole songs (it was often a much quicker method of assessment). I was hoping to find songs that said something about the nature of armies or the experience of being in the army, so was not very interested in personal tales of loss and separation (for example). My attempt to broaden things out to different types of army largely failed, so it became a look at the army experience.

The volume of work surprised me. Whether I was being too methodical or simply too slow I’m unsure, but it took me all of Friday to examine the 100-ish songs nominated between 10pm and 10.30pm from the previous night. At that rate, I wouldn’t meet the deadline. However, it became clear that the blog thins out considerably after that initial frenzy: it gets padded out with duplicate noms, justifications, donds and chatter. It’s no wonder that many A-lists have been mainly songs nominated early as that’s when the vast majority of new suggestions are made.

I plodded on with my method, even noting blatantly unsuitable songs in my spreadsheet so that I wouldn’t have to duplicate the process of dismissing them a second time. Although I got a bit lax with such songs, I still ended up with 273 nominations in there. It took me through to the end of Monday to evaluate them all.

By the end of Sunday, certain themes seemed to be emerging – recruitment, training, being in battle, being in peace, losing comrades, being killed – and I classified the songs I hadn’t dismissed accordingly. Sorting and shuffling my final list on Tuesday somehow produced 12 songs that I thought said something about those themes and I was able to wrap them in some words. There was a political tone to several songs, so the Michael Gove reference seemed a legitimate afterthought.

I didn’t dismiss any song because I didn’t like it. I took the view that I’m the curator, so my taste should only really be applied to on-topicness. I did, however, cut down on ‘lyrics sung to popular tunes’ (of which there were several written by soldiers themselves), military drumming and chopper noises. I do not particularly like the Sabbat track, for example, but I firmly believe it belongs where it is in the list.

I spent Wednesday collating a B-list of songs that still said something worth saying or said it in a musically interesting way but weren’t ‘good enough’ for the A-list. By then I’d probably spent approaching 30 hours on the project. I doubt a Guardian guru ever did that and I’m curious about their balance between finding appropriate songs and simply songs that they recognised/liked. I was able and willing to invest that much time but it’s a completely impractical process to perform week after week.

I enjoyed getting the job done. I’m quite happy with what dropped out into the lists and I’m pleased with (most of) the feedback. I’m slightly disappointed that no-one picked up on my ‘ungrateful dead’ line, however……

28 thoughts on “Being a GOTW – My Two Penn’orth

  1. Re “ungrateful dead”: Oh we did Chris, we did.

    Re interest in each GotW process: to be honest, that’s fast becoming my most favourite part of the week.

    Keep on keeping on, folks.
    Right, TEN-HUT! Here come the hordes for marshalling …

  2. Hey, we’re forming an RR Vets club! How was your war? They just don’t understand what it’s like out there, do they, those who haven’t yet done their doody? 😉

    What’s happened to WordPress btw? The ‘new post’ screen doesn’t have a Category option any more and it doesn’t work at all on IE.

  3. good to hear your method, Chris, sounds like a mighty undertaking, I was right to think I don’t have the hours spare at the moment!

  4. I like to hear about he method, it reassures me that I’m right not to volunteer.

    As for WP,if you use the left hand menu Posts / New post then you can put in a category. But I don’t think you can do it on “Quick Press”.

  5. Since I don’t participate in RR anymore I’m not sure that my comments are appropriate, but when I saw the topic last week my first thoughts were for:

    a, The IRA, they’re an army in more than just a name and they believed they were fighting for a just cause. I bought an album by Dominic Behan in the ’60’s titled ‘Songs of the IRA’ any one of which would have fit.
    b. Songs of the International Brigade, many great songs evolved from the Spanish civil war and I have the vinyl for those also. Plus there are so many great songs about those who fought against the fascist military of many South American countries. Were they an army? depends how you define it.
    c. And I might have suggested ‘And the band played waltzing Matilda’ but someone else did it, good call.
    At one time I might have made the effort but it no longer seems worthwhile
    And how was my war? I suppose it was hell but not for me. Mine was exciting, I lived through a blitz and many air raids, I sat on hillsides and watched the bombs exploding and the searchlights searching as Sheffield got pasted again and I spent my childhood collecting German bomb fragments and pieces of crashed US bombers.
    I do appreciate the new system where the readers get to participate and I like to read about the process, good one Chris.

  6. I’m going to have some questions for you towards the end of the weekend as i’m wrapping up listening, but for now i have just one –

    Did you find you didn’t want to listen to music for awhile afterwards? Or did you go straight for the Deadjams?

  7. I think your hard work really paid off, it was a great list that distinctly brought out the different faces of war, from the sheer noise to the black humour. So I really enjoyed listening, even though some of the tracks would not generally have been to my taste

    • Looks like this relationship reqiures high maintenance Long island sounds good though And yeah I was not giving any gyaan..just felt it would ve been a good tribute.Btw breakfast club is a good movie, can’t remember this track though, n can’t play it cos I’m on the phone!

    • Dear Majic, My name is Gail Hook and I am currently enrolled in the Hospitality program at Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne. During this fall semester the graduating senior class “Advance Food Service Management/ HTM 492” will be in charge of operating an Oktoberfest themed restaurant at the Holiday Inn located across from the Coliseum. We are open every Tuesday night -October 16th to December 4th – from 5pm until 10 pm. HTM 492 is one of the most significant classes within the Hospitality program where emphasis is placed on utilizing effective management skills; creates a high-quality, profitable operation with well planned systems and highly motivated, organized employees. Simply put, it is the students’ opportunity to display what they have learned during their first semesters at IPFW. Since the opening of the Holiday Inn, our program has been holding this class in the hotel’s Mastodon Grill. Every Tuesday night for 10 weeks, us, the students will be working as a common restaurant promoting Oktoberfest as our theme. I am excited to share this new opportunity for you to continue supporting us as customers of the restaurant. For reservations I encourage you to call the Holiday Inn at 260-482-3800. We also offer a 15% discount to all IPFW staff, faculty, and students. As strong believers in our program we would love to see you every Tuesday night in order to continue to show your support. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me via email at or via cell phone at 260-908-1281.Once again, thank you and on behalf of HTM 492 we wish to see you soon.Best Regards,Gail Hook

      cialis from india online purchase free auto insurance quotes online

    • MGS- Darryl Hanna and Jackson Browne breaking up reueltsd in one of the most incrdible albums of all time! I’m alive is one of the best!Cassie- Headed now to check out your song! Thanks for the reccommendation!Katie- You know I’ll enter! xx

  8. Chris –

    Couple tech questions (hopefully you’ll get this email)

    1) 600 words, how did you do your word count, via a word-processing program?

    2) Did your track listing at the end of the column have to count in the 600? I like posting a list at the end too, better than digging through the column to figure out what the playlist is.

    Thanks –

    (ps – As Fintan said, we yanks can use the time difference to advantage when going thru the blog and listening. But it comes back to bite us in the ass at deadline time.)

    • Hi amy
      I used Word for my write-up, so the word count was easy. I don’t think I included the track list in the count but I don’t think the Graun does either.
      I really don’t think they are that fussed about the number of words: there’s no space limit on a blog page. You’ve more important things to fret about at this stage of the game!

      • Well, i’m just going by what Adam said in the email – no more than 12 songs and 600 words max. And as the Graun’s subeditors don’t seem terribly trustworthy (cf Webby’s column, and especially given some of the shit i’m going to say) – i’d rather do the cutting myself i think!


        (yes, still fretting. but can leave the b-list at least till tomorrow.)

        Will check back here if i have more questions.

  9. Hi Chris – I really liked both write ups but the collecting of:
    Tiny Soldiers – The Men They Couldn’t Hang
    Spirit of the Falklands – New Model Army
    Bloodsport for All – Carter USM ….
    …took me straight back to post student era – this coincided with helping a best friend take an “upstanding army man” (the judges words – struck from the records 3 times) to court for ritual abuse.
    The man had done a deal admitting all other charges to get an improved prison sentence – this couldn’t be mentioned to the jury – that’s the ass of the law – and this “upstanding army man” was taking down the ‘whistle blower’ as he went.. he was a well trained soldier in that respect. My friends life was dragged through the papers and the man was found, ‘not guilty’ those charges – the jury nearly rioted when they found out what he was then sentenced for – those that weren’t in tears anyway.

    It wasn’t my first run in with “upstanding army men” a career in legalised murder has been something I’ve questioned all my life – from doing photo essays on the boys groomed for forces stardom at school from the age of 12 during Falklands – to helping set up talks about the flip side – the empty shells of humans that returned from Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve taken the verbals from these men.. It’s impressive breaking of ‘individual spirit’ to a gluing of unquestioning gang mentality.

    I wont go into the history of what happened to my Dad’s mum – a top army driver – or my thoughts on answering the call to ‘the Queen’ and Politicians, arms dealer, chums.

    Or they fact that my friends in other countries having to serve when their personalities just weren’t designed for such idiocy.

    Or the buying of replica guns to let children play wars, numbing them to death.

    Or my belief that after the 2nd world war, weapon manufacture should have been criminalised, and a world army with one representative from each country keeping peace – so big countries couldn’t bully for the resources from other less wealthy nations – stopping illegal wars before they start.

    I know I’m naive to believe it could work – but I’d rather try.

    But above all, when the Guardian family section was doing a piece on some bloke’s book about his ‘Army style raising your children’, (I don’t know it’s proper title) the interviewer said ‘even the most hardened pacifist couldn’t argue about it’s worth** – well fuck off Mr. Interviewer – if it truthfully tells my 2 year old how to kill anyone that doesn’t agree with him, the army way – then as a pacifist I can argue rather a lot… if it doesn’t go into the truth of the army way – then it’s a money spinning sham about lying. I don’t want to teach my child to lie. Either way – it’s wholeheartedly wrong from a pacifist point of view.

    As I said, it’s all personal, and not a RR subject for me to rant away on – there’s other places for that – not here… (he says ranting like a ‘trooper’).

    I listened to each song on the playlist and the reality of their subject matter depressed me – all worthwhile, all well presented – but emotionally gut wrenching for me.. I then realised my nominations had skirted around the reality of army situations – in the way boys with sticks pretend to do war.

    ** as a contradictionary type I know the worth of getting fathers involved in the upbringing of their sprogs too – ‘real man’ books sometimes work… I’d rather there were less ‘real men’ who ‘like killing’ in the world.

    See, that’s why I tried to shut up – I can’t do ‘it’s okay as a playlists’… it always means more.

    • Boys are socialised to solve problems by fighting. Why is this? Can nobody see that, this way, the one who wins is the one who’s bigger, stronger, has more resources (skills, friends to back him up)? Nothing to do with who was right. But the winner thinks he is right. And the loser feels bitter, angry, unheard.

      1 Why is it always men who are in charge?
      2 Why are the men in charge not men like Shane?

      The way it works at the moment is stupid.

    • Thanks for posting that, shane. Whilst I’m not glad that the songs made you relive some unhappy times, I am very glad that you heard what the songs wanted me to say. I’d have liked to inject more cameraderie into the A-list but the bitterness, cruelty and destruction of souls just overwhelmed almost everything else. As to this being a place to rant, its postscript was meant to encourage precisely that.
      I’m a theoretical pacifist, thankful that I’ve not been challenged on it like my parents’ generation was. Humans do get nasty, it seems, and I don’t know how to stop it.

      The BBC headline I saw when logging on to say this was: ‘Gun lobby defiant as Newtown mourns’. Money and guns: the apex of civilisation. But the world didn’t end yesterday.

  10. TfD and Chris – I think this quote from the mornings paper says it all;

    “the way to stop bad men with guns – is with good men with guns”

    How these people can not see the idiocy of that statement is beyond me – frightening.

    …. and the photograph of the mother fingering a gun for sale with her little daughter watching is just unfathomable… shocking world.

    • One view of history supports that statement, unfortunately. The word that’s omitted is ‘more’: “the way to stop good men with guns – is with bad men with more guns” is also true.
      The NRA has no interest in morality, it’s simply being an excellent trade association, expanding the market for weapons manufacturers and retailers. With free trade comes free death. It’s a macabre BOGOF.

      • History is a difficult place that I’m glad I’m not involved in.

        But the answer now is to have, no men (or women) with guns, wouldn’t make a cent though, as you say – so my simple solution is fecked… the N** head salesman was ‘joked’ about as not knowing one end of a gun to another – but he’s got a lot of blood on his hands – since he took the reigns.

        I’m really into the development of 3D printers – I think designing and small scale manufacture could enhance communities – making production a shared local experience again and eco friendly – designed things CAN be printed with fairly eco friendly ‘plastics’ plus delivery would be in the surrounding area – etc etc) … then, the printers went on sale and the first use was to 3D print a weapons pin that was illegal. Then I just become sad again that this ‘need’ to kill is inbred/encouraged. *sigh*

  11. Review by for Rating: Hap Palmer’s videos and songs are of the hieghst quality. My children beg to listen on a daily basis and can sit for hours dancing and singing to the variety of songs Mr. Palmer performs. It is not only the content of the videos and music that are so important and useful but the learning that is going on while my kids are having fun. The songs teach them new words and let their imaginations run free. I would recommend Palmer’s music to any parent and hope that his award winning music is around for many years to come!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s