Sunday, July 9, 2023

Tripping Out With Matchstick Men - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Quinoa"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, leaned heavily on psych music, in particular stuff from across the pond. If you happened to miss this episode you can listen to it on the KUCR Archive. It'll be up for a couple weeks before it gets replaced by newer shows. Listen while you can!

We kicked off this episode with a popular psych song by Status Quo named "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and according to Francis Rossi, the band's singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter, Status Quo wasn't much of a psychedelic band before the song's release and he considered the group more akin to his mod contemporaries. In his 2004 book XS All Areas: The Status Quo Autobiography Rossi states:

Musically, the success of Matchstick Men sent us on a whole new path. Because it was looked on as this very sort of psychedelic, hippy-dippy type of song, we were now looked on by the people who had bought it as a full-on psychedelic group, which of course we weren't at all. I didn't even know how to spell 'psychedelic' back then.

Additionally, Rossi explains how he began writing the song while locked in his bathroom, where he often hid from his first wife during their tumultuous marriage. In an interview with Carl Wiser for SongFacts, Rossi cites Jimi Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe" as inspiration for the song's structure and states that the song is about his ex-wife and how he regretted marrying her early into their relationship. I have found countless articles mentioning that the song was written about L. S. Lowry's paintings but I haven't been able to locate any particular interview where Rossi makes such a claim. It seems that the song's ties to Lowry come from the fact that his works were often described as having "matchstalk" or "matchstick" men due to the unusually stiff subjects in Lowry's paintings. 

During the show, I mentioned that I read someone's interpretation of the song which argued that it's about a man that's haunted by Lowry's unusual paintings. However, there isn't much merit behind such a claim, being that the imagery Rossi alludes to doesn't match the descriptions of Lowry's paintings and that Rossi has clearly stated that the song is about his ex-wife. While Rossi might be referencing Lowry's "matchstick" men in the song, I would say it would be wrong to claim that the song is "about" Lowry's work. Of course, there is a sense of eeriness in Lowry's work and with Lowry himself, being that he was an unusual man with a mysterious aura, so it does make sense that someone would write a song inspired by his paintings or eccentricities.

As the show went on, you heard The Montanas' "Difference of Opinion" and I spoke about the band's industrial hometown of Wolverhampton, England which, like the settings of Lowry's paintings, was at one time known for being dingy. When Queen Victoria was 13, she had visited Wolverhampton and wrote in her diary that it was "a large and dirty town" with grass that was "blasted and black". As time passed, so did most of the industry, with large swaths of factories closing in the 20th and 21st century. 

As for The Montanas, they mostly had a sparkling clean sunshine pop-ish sound with their most popular song being "You've Got To Be Loved". The song was successful here in the states but didn't really catch on in the UK. At first, The Montanas played with a straight forward beat sound but as time went on, they began to add more strings, bounce, oohhs and awwws which led to the pop sound they are most famous for.

And that's about it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

You can check out this week's playlist below:


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