Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Listening too Long to One Song: The Chesterf!elds "Ask Johnny Dee"

"So what did happen to Johnny Dee?" asked Peter. I must have had a very puzzled look on my face, because whatever he said next was the thing that clarified for me that Johnny Dee was a real person. We were listening to the Chesterf!elds, of course, and this news was something of a revelation to me at the time. Everything about this song (which I had heard too many times before this conversation took place to count) suggested that it's title character must be fictional. This was not only suggested by the lyrics, but the dreamy sort of elongated tone of the guitar riff that opens the track, as well as the crisp drumbeat, and sharp yet very minimal bass line that combine with the nicely intricate guitar work that is being displayed at this point. The result of all of this is a terribly gorgeous sonic shimmer. But surely it is the lyrics that mostly do the trick of suggesting that Johnny Dee must be larger than life, and therefore could not possibly exist. The way the lines are delivered adds to this exponentially. "Well if you'd like to know what pop stars have for tea, ask Johnny Deeeee. With the name Johnny Dee sung in a manner that most resembles a sigh. I have to imagine that the Johnny Dee of reality was slightly embellished in this song. Though I have to imagine that any embellishment was very slight, as everyone I've spoken to who who has ever encountered Johnny Dee remembers those encounters with great fondness. Apparently he promoted shows, which may explain a band like the Chesterf!elds giving him such a glowing tribute in song form. According to my sources, he was present at quite a large number of shows. However, it seems that he is most well known as a writer who produced fanzines, and eventually went on to contribute to the NME.

I have to assume that the link that I am about to direct you to regards the same Johnny Dee, if so, then catch up with the current goings on of this somewhat prolific music journalist here. If anyone could confirm for me that this is in fact the Same Johnny Dee, I would be most appreciative!

There are several Chesterf!elds songs available for your listening pleasure here. While you're there be sure to give "Completely and Utterly," a proverbial spin as well. That's shaping up to be the next song to occupy a borderline unhealthy amount of my time.

Also, if you are looking set up a Chesterf!elds collection of your very own, this is a very nice (and inexpensive) place to start. Even though, sadly, this comp does not appear to include their seriously impressive cover of the Vic Godard song, "Holiday Hymn."


Allan Kingdom said...

He appears to be a journalist for the esteemed Guardian as well:

Marion said...

Ah, good to know! Thanks for the additional (apparent) information!

FireEscape said...

He definitely does write for The Guardian - he does the internet column each week in The Guide. At the time of The Chesterfields single, Johnny Dee was writing the Especially Yellow fanzine. You can read a page of it here.