One Year On, Ian Dury and ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’

I shared my first pandemic-related post (called Blindsided) this same weekend last year and since then there have been many, many more. I’m glad I have documented all the ups and downs (mainly downs to be fair) of the past 12 months as I no longer keep a paper diary, so in the future it will be interesting to look back at this time and remind myself of how it all played out. Doesn’t really fit the remit of this blog however, which was always supposed to be a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years.

Does this happen to other music bloggers I wonder – Do you run out of songs to write about and find that your blog has inadvertently veered into new territories? Of course we could never run out of songs per se as we are exposed to tens of thousands of them (more?) in the course of our lifetimes, but only so many really resonate with us and have an entertaining, personal story attached. That’s when the idea of creating ‘a series’ becomes appealing, as you have a theme to anchor you, and I’ve loved the ones I have shared so far. None of my recent ideas have worked out though, for various reasons. The Solar System in Song was supposed to take over from the Full Moon in Song, but once you get past Mars and Venus there is little left to work with (songs about Uranus anyone?).

So, I have done a bit of tidying up around here this week and got rid of all the draft (daft?) ideas that didn’t turn into anything. I have a clean slate to work on, which is quite appealing. I am aware my regular Saturday blog post has turned into a bit of a web-diary affair with an appropriate song thrown in, which I’m still fine with, but I think I really need to get back to revisiting the tracks of my years in some shape or form. Watch this space as they say.

Talking of web-diaries, nothing much to report this week other than that my poorly ankle continues to improve, after the tumble caused by a pesky pothole. I even went to the supermarket yesterday with Mr WIAA which was the first time I’ve ventured out since it happened. I’m never quite sure how fastidious most shoppers are about social distancing, but with my foot in a boot, I certainly got lots of distance as I navigated the aisles. It seems a physical manifestation of benign ill-health is easier to deal with, when it comes to social distancing, than a potentially lethal invisible virus, and there lies the problem I suppose.

But this is a music blog and I have actually been experiencing a bit of an earworm this week, caused by something heard on the radio. I had just finished reading the David Hepworth book Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars and particularly enjoyed the chapter on Ian Dury. He first formed a band in 1971 and although he didn’t actually sing, but rather spoke his lyrics, by 1978 he was one of the most successful acts in the country. Omnipresent around the Christmas of that year was Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. When it came on the radio this week I was reminded just how great it still sounds, with no less than two saxophone solos (one of them on two different saxophones!). Ian wrote the lyrics in his usual rhyming style, and Chaz Jankel was responsible for the music, which features an impressive bassline.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads:


Watching this footage of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, I am also reminded of just what a great performer he was. Despite contracting polio at the age of seven, which resulted in the paralysis and withering of his left leg, shoulder and arm, he didn’t let it get in the way and adopted a distinctive pose at the mike stand. It is no surprise he also became an actor, appearing in many films throughout the ’80s and ’90s. He sadly died at the age of 57 in 2000, but his legacy lives on through his son Baxter Dury.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I realise I have just tagged on a song by someone who had a disability after describing my temporary disability. This is pure coincidence I can assure you. There is no doubt however that Ian’s journey through life was informed by his experiences, his lyrics often exploring the place of disabled people in what he called ‘normal land’ (Spasticus Autisticus).

As for me, if I am to carry on with this blogging malarkey for a while yet, I will have to up my game I think and try to get back to what it was all supposed to be about. I may have got rid of all the daft drafts, but I still have my ‘spreadsheet of ideas’ tucked away in the recesses of my computer. Time to look it out again perhaps.

Until next time…

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick Lyrics
(Song by Ian Dury/Chaz Jankel)

In the deserts of Sudan
And the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatán
Every woman, every man

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me slowly, hit me quick
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
Das ist gut, c’est fantastique
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
It’s nice to be a lunatic
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit!

In the dock of Tiger Bay
On the road to Mandalay
From Bombay to Santa Fé
Over the hills far away

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
C’est si bon, ist es nicht
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Two fat persons, click, click, click
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me
!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!

Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

10 thoughts on “One Year On, Ian Dury and ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’”

  1. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of songs to write about, but I do find myself floundering on what else to write about. Just prior to the lockdown, I started a new series Memory Mixtape which was (though not intentionally) a similar attempt to link songs to stories from my life. But lockdown put paid to that as I found myself unable to spend much time in the past when the present was all-consuming. I constantly fear running out of things to write… and then inspiration strikes at the last minute. It’s easier since I decided to write for myself rather than trying to please an audience.

    Glad to hear your ankle is recovering, Alyson.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, there is absolutely no chance of you ever running out of songs to write about, but the ones mixed with memories take a lot more work and emotional effort, so they get put on the back burner. Also, I worry about over-sharing and people from the real world finding themselves being written about on these pages.

      My Saturday web-diary posts don’t require much prior planning as they just evolve once I start writing. I would really like to get back to some of the series though (although they do take a lot of research) – I’m tempted to pick up my American Odyssey again as it was enjoyable to put together. Once I get past Delaware it should get easier.

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  2. I’m glad to hear that you are on the mend. Yesterday and the day before that boasted warm temps. My wife and I ate outdoors at restaurants both of those nights. Today isn’t warm at all. We’ll have dinner at home and soon after that we’ll watch the final episode of Stateless, a good series on Netflix.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, glad my ankle is on the mend. Also glad you are managing to do a bit of eating out. Our restaurants all closed again just after Christmas so not been anywhere for ages. The weekly shop has become really well-organised as we’re trying to cook nice things to cheer us up. Roll on the warmer weather here too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course you did – I definitely heard it on the radio this week but probably also saw it over at your place and read the chapter in the book about him. It was meant to be. I’ve really enjoyed watching him in that clip – He was quite unique.

      Yes, the ankle is getting there so all good.

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  3. Glad to hear you’re on the mend.
    I do enjoy the way many blogs naturally evolve over time. I suppose whatever strapline we give ourselves at the beginning may become a little less relevant or precise as time passes but I don’t feel that it matters, it just sort of tells us what the starting point was. It’s always good to hear and read about the tracks of your years but any veering into other side avenues is just as interesting!
    Ian Dury was such a one-off, wasn’t he? I’d just heard nothing like him before. I got to see them play in Ipswich in 1979 and discovered through this corner of the internet that a certain other fellow blogger also did, same venue, same week – think we missed each other just by one night, not that we’d have known it at the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, definitely on the mend.

      I expect you are right, our blogs evolve over time but I think I sometimes veer just a bit too far away from the original premise. I also write more openly when I know no-one from the real world is likely to drop by and I’m still unsure whether my college tutor has dropped by so a bit tricky at the moment.

      Yes, Ian Dury was a real one-off and lucky you having been able to see him live. I saw a fair few of the Stiff artists around that time but never Ian. Funny that, you being at the same venue the same week. It has occurred to me that we may have crossed paths with some of the blogging fraternity over the years but because we retain our anonymity to a large extent, you just never know for sure.

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  4. Not really familiar with Ian Drury, but did appreciate knowing how he didn’t let a disability prevent him from performing. I’m reminded of Jerome Felder aka Doc Pomus who also contracted polio at a young age and became wheelchair dependent. It didn’t stop him from joining up with Mort Shuman to write many songs for likes of the Drifters, the Coasters, Andy Williams and Elvis (among many others). One song of particular f note is “Save The Last Dance For Me”. The story goes that Pomus formulated this song on the night of his wedding as, from his wheelchair, he watched the many male guests at the wedding dance with his bride.
    Talk about making ‘Lemonade out of Lemons’. Hope there is a silver lining in that boot of yours Alyson.!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I don’t think you would have experienced Ian Dury across the pond but he was a real character who certainly didn’t let his disability get in the way. His style was derived from the days of Music Hall and he was an artist (who taught for a while), a poet (his lyrics were very clever), a performer of songs (or speaker of lyrics!) and an actor. He affected a kind of ‘Mockney’ accent despite not coming from that kind of background and was a one-off.

      Interesting to hear that Doc Pomus story – I found out about him when I wrote about the Elvis song ‘She’s Not You’ – My generation and beyond have been spared the threat of polio so you forget about all the people who went before us who were not as fortunate. Just as right now, makes you thankful for the vaccines.

      My boot is temporary but I suppose it has meant I’ve caught up with paperwork and such like which is a bit of a silver lining!

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