Originally published July 2007
“Boy, it began to rain like a bastard. In buckets, I swear to God. All the parents and mothers and everybody went over and stood right under the roof of the carousel, so they wouldn’t get soaked to the skin or anything, but I stuck around on the bench for quite a while. I got pretty soaking wet, especially my neck and my pants. My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway. I didn’t care though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going round and round. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going round and round, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.”
J. D. Salinger
The Catcher In The Rye (1951)
I don’t remember how old I was when I first read The Catcher In The Rye (I still have my old Penguin Modern Classics copy which cost 30p) but I was the type who identified with Holden Caulfield and still am a little. He was the clever, sarcastic kid who wasn’t very good at games and was prematurely cynical about the world, but had a sentimental streak a mile wide. Holden was a teen rebel but not in any wild, living-on-the-edge, rock and roll sort of way. His awkwardness and love of childish innocence made him more of an indie-pop sort of rebel, the patron saint of quiet boys who start fanzines in their bedrooms, make mixtapes for pretty girls, or form indie bands.
Orange Juice made his influence apparent when they put out records on a label called “Holden Caulfield Universal”, but if they were to make a movie of the novel I’d nominate The Pale Fountains to supply the soundtrack. Edwyn Collins had Holden’s sardonic humour, but Fountains’ lead singer Michael Head captured his wistful yearning and fragile sensibility.
Download: Just A Girl – The Pale Fountains (mp3)
In my movie version of Catcher In The Rye I can imagine The Fountains’ lovely second single “Thank You” bursting out like fireworks over the climactic scene with Holden’s little sister spinning around on the carousel while he breaks down in tears at the transcendent beauty of it all. With it’s soaring crescendos of strings there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
Download: Thank You – The Pale Fountains (mp3)
By the time their debut album Pacific Street finally emerged in 1984 they had competition from new bands like the even more bookish and precious Prefab Sprout (who wrote songs based on Graham Greene novels). Flop though it was, the album did produce their best ever moment in the majestic single “(Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War” which was called “You’ll Start A War” on the album but was made even more swoon-worthy on this extended 12″ version. God I wish you could’ve been there.
Download: (Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War (12″ version) – The Pale Fountains (mp3)