Sunday, December 1, 2019


What could reflect the joy and terror of families better than a wedding, especially after a few gargles have been downed? It was only during the penning of my last piece I realised how little these pages have featured Oysterband, possibly the band I have seen live the most, from a small folk club gig in about 1986, to a classy arts centre last month, by way of myriad gigs and festivals in between. Yup, I love this band, even if I occasionally don't, citing enough is enough, they then pulling some trick or other to haul me back. Bastards!

Anyway, this song comes from their 1983 record Holy Bandits, and is a glorious amalgam of Fisherman's Blues era Waterboys and the thrash folk-punk of the Levellers, back-filtered with a bit of a lick and a polish: at the time the Oysterband were described as "like the Levellers after a good wash", a somewhat back handed compliment to either band. Still a staple in their live shows, it reflects the more boisterous part of their repertoire and acts as ballast against some of the more thoughtful material. It is a glorious hooley.  As anyone who has been to lots of weddings can confirm, and I have had three of my own, the combination of booze and bonhomie can bring out the best and worst of individuals thrown together by dint of circumstance. If the adage is that you can choose your friends, but never your family, so too you can choose your spouse, but as with your own, the family comes gratis. And how often has the proud son of Mr Oil met with the beautiful daughter of Mr Water? The nuptials of the Petrol family with the family Flames come also to mind. (Mind you, it can and does work the other way too, my first wife and I always saying we could never divorce because of the parents, as in them getting on so well. Until, um, we did.)

"do you take this woman? 
 said yes I do 
I love her like crazy
and I think she loves me too 
but we'll do without the family 
if it's all the same to you 
happy ever after 

your mother is a flake 
my father's full of shite 
your sister says you married me 
in white just for spite 
well a party's not a party 
till it ends up in a fight 
happy ever after 

and there was my lot and your lot 
and us two in between 
this is the last time I get married 
this is the last time I get married

my brother's never short 
of a substance to abuse 
rum & glue & Thunderbird 
& wizz & Special Brew 
any minute now he'll show us 
all of his tattoos 
happy ever after 

nephews are obnoxious
nieces are too tall 
a dozen drunken uncles 
are pissing up the wall 
grandad is grinning 
but there's no one home at all 
happy ever after

for richer, for poorer, 
for better or for worse 
now we are married, a blessing or a curse 
kiss me & don't forget 
what you see is what you get

and the best man is the worst man, 
the best man is a beast 
underneath the table 
with the sister of the priest 
the way he's going at it 
she is probably deceased 
happy ever after 

granny's on the brandy
getting bleary-eyed 
guys I went to school with 
want to see me outside 
someone's pulled the bridesmaid 
anyone seen the bride? 
happy ever after

and there was my lot and your lot 
and us two in between 
this is the last time I get married 
this is the last time I get married "

I also feature (above) a video of this song, from barely two years ago, band, and audience for that matter, despite english being their second language, clearly still revelling in the song, as well showing the curiosity of melodeon, cello and fiddle in a six piece rock band. (OK, folk-rock band.) Together (below) with an example of the 'more thoughtful material' alluded to above, and probably the song, 'London City', they sing after leaving the stage following the featured, their traditional closer and encore for many a long year. And, in their 41st year, hopefully still to come.

Whet your thirst!

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