Bad Trips: Ten tunes that did my head in on the way to school

As previously documented on here when I sit back and recall certain stations of my semi-eventful life, there’s always an epic sound-track to accompany these haunting and vivid memories.

So now I’d like to ask you to step back in time, to the late 1970s if you will, where the air hangs heavy with the aroma of Old Spice after-shave and the fug of stale pump bags. A young catholic boy with a killer fringe and a government issue snorkel parka sits in the back of his dad’s Volvo. Grumpily drawing stick figures in the condensation of the windows. Wishing his arms were long enough to negotiate past the kiddie locks to open the car door and run straight back home to hid underneath his Incredible Hulk duvet until its 1988.

The songs that accompany the memories of my daily journeys towards impending class-room doom were and in fact still are catchier than veruccas (which were all the rage in those days). It could have been the frightening amount of chemicals they were putting in Shreddies back then or perhaps just my young, un-cynical mind but the music I heard during these short journeys had a magical, almost drug-like effect on me. Heightening the sense of drama/fear a day at St Christopher’s RC Primary school promised.

Anyway here’s my top ten songs that I now like but basically shit me up a bit on the way to primary school when I was a kid…

Barbara Dickson – January, February

Dicko sure knew how to up the morning tension with this spooky, foreboding ‘mum’s run out of barbs’ melody didn’t she? Why is she singing about these two months in particular? I don’t know about the time of year but I remember wishing it was still Sunday and I was watching That’s Life with my mum every time I heard this. A nailed on Terry Wogan classic.

Pilot – January

More calendar based lyrics. Hang on? January, that’s the month when most people kill themselves isn’t it? Ironically enough the line “Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me” would still be ringing in my ears during the forced attendance at assembly half an hour later. As the rest of the kids eagerly sang along to The court of king Caractacus during Mr Foley’s enthralling acoustic guitar set, I’d be eyeing the gym ropes with a view to making a noose and leaping theatrically off the pommel horse to join the great choir invisible.

Genesis – Follow you Follow Me

I can just imagine looking behind our car at a young bank manager singing along to this whilst at the wheel of his new Ford Granada. His eyes like rissoles in the snow, sleepily wondering if Sandra will make her Moussaka again this weekend and why that kid with the fringe is repeatedly sticking two fingers up at him from the car in front. Another ethereal, ghostly tune that segues neatly into…

Kate Bush – The Man with the Child in His eyes

Whoah, what’s happening dad? That weird ballet-witch is trying to entrance us again, last time she was harping on about Yorkshire ghosts, now like a Bredbury Green harpy she’s trying to make us plough into the Zebra crossing, so that we all end up with a bit of child in our eyes. TURN IT OFF.

Chicago – If You Leave Me Now

If there’s one song that sums up the kind of tune that helped increase my feelings of quiet terror during the approach to the school gates then it’s this AORing fucker. I just thank God I didn’t know what Peter Cetera’s hair looked like at the time or I’d have knocked myself unconscious with my Snoopy & Woodstock thermos flask (replete with sausage and beans). I still get the horrors when I hear that early morning BBC news sting that sounds very similar to the intro of this. The most passive aggressive song ever made.

Roxy Music – Oh Yeah!

This is like the theme tune to a sitcom about a young boy who is too well spoken to be in with the estate urchins but too worldly wise to be mates with the middle class ponces. So he works on being really funny whilst hanging around with the gay kids and discussing Heaven 17. Actually that would be a rubbish sitcom, still this song has ‘that thing’ about it that reminds me of nicotine yellow car interiors, frosty mornings and full blown, shit-your-pants school fear.


“Where are those happy days they seem so hard to find?” You said it Agnetha love, you said it.

Wings – With A Little Luck

I like the optimistic sentiment in this one but the overall feel is definitely one of sadness isn’t it? Like realising that one day you’ll be big enough to knock several shades of shite out of your head-master but in the mean-time he’s a good five stone heavier than you and he’s the one holding the leather strap. Mr Reddy, if you’re reading this, you were the bully, not me (you cretinous little man) *gets closure*

Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap

Slightly veering away from the spooky/cosmic vibes of the other tunes, this sax-driven new waver still managed to add a frisson of panic to the morning commute with it’s claustrophobic message. Ironically enough I Don’t Like Mondays had the opposite effect on my nerves as I somewhat enjoyed the notion that one kid had had the balls to start spraying their playground with lead. I bet they tried to make her do country-dancing too, big up yourself Brenda Ann Spencer, you mad, mad bitch.

Cliff Richard – Carrie

Not helped by sharing the same title as the horror flick where Sissy Spacek drops some serious telekinetic science on her prom-night tormentors Cliff’s harrowing tale is all about his quest for a missing lady. Excuse my French Clifford but if she’s from Bradford she’s fucked, this is 1979 and Sutcliffe is still on the loose. Not even the Floral Dance can pull us out of this one.

Join me soon for more maudlin memories…



  1. Wogan always played The Floral Dance, hate that shit.

  2. Swiss James

    Turns out it was The Carpenters, Superstar I was thinking of. Angie Baby is weird too though.

  3. Swiss James

    Fuckinell you’re old, I’ve never heard of most of this stuff. Mine would be more like:

    Helen Reddy: Angie Baby

    She’s got a moody voice that one, “Don’t you remember you told me you loved me baby?”- sad.

    Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights

    The only song I know by her, freaked the shit out of me as a young lad doing P.E “expressive dancing” (what? we all had to) class.

    Wham: Everything She Wants

    From my big sister’s collection- I still worry about how he’s going to cope when that baby comes along.

    Queen: Football Fight

    B-side to the theme from Flash Gordon. Sounded spooky on my Dad’s Hitachi hi-fi with those big headphones on.

  4. Joseph Holt

    i do find nmy musical listening increasinglty drawn to the early 70;s and the soundtrack of being a child.

    Stylistics, Hunky Dory, Northern Soul and even the Carpenters.

    Even the song on the border of my era and the one above does carry the evocative line as posted:

    “Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find?”

  5. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street and Sad Cafe – Everyday Hurts remind me of the late 70’s – no wonder punk was so successful after all this Middle of the Road tripe !!

  6. Barbara Dickson and Roxy Music, the sound of my early childhood.

  7. Excellent picks there Neil. Very atmospheric for me, them. One day we will have another drink and perhaps finish the evening sobbing on each others’ shoulders.

    Or maybe we’ll both just black out and wake up at distant ends of the county with bad ‘eads.

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