When I first heard ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” in 1984, it sounded like nothing before. It was urgent, literate, sophisticated and futuristic. I remember sitting down with my copy of Smash Hits with Green on one page and an interview and lyrics on the other.
I had to ask my mother what some of the words meant (‘intravenous’ ‘schizo’ ‘taboo’) and then what the hell they meant in the song. I was fascinated by it: all those new ideas for a 11-year-old country boy to take in – ‘there’s nothing I wouldn’t take/not even intravenous’ ‘that’s the gift of schizo’ ‘each time I go to bed/I pray like Aretha Franklin’. I had to get the single, and my poor mum was once again charged with this task on a shopping trip to Galway.
Then I saw the sleeve and was further intrigued. I found out about Aretha Franklin, Joseph Beuys,white chocolate, Arif Mardin, intertextuality and a whole new world began to present itself, populated with glamourous intelligent hip people such as Green, David Gamson and Fred Maher. I wanted to be a part of that.
I’ve written about Scritti before in detail, but suffice it to say that after 22 years, I finally shook hands with Green in Dublin after a blinder of a gig in Whelans with the new youthful Scritti line-up. I met Dicky, Alyssa and Rhodri too (all charming and self-effacing, seemingly surprised to be asked for an autograph). And then the man himself. Being completely starstruck, all I could manage to say was “I’ve been a fan snce ‘Wood Beez'” to which he sagely responded “blimey” and signed the inlay of the minidisc version of Anomie & Bonhomie (my fave Scritti album). He thanked me, posed for this pic (I look like shit!) and shook my hand.
I was high as a kite for hours afterwards and wouldn’t shut up about Scritti. So thanks to Tony whom I dragged along (he introduced himself to Green as “your newest fan”!) for putting up with an 11-year-old Enda getting overexcited about his records.
Why not scoot over to Bibbly-o-tek for all things Scritular. Audio, video, text- they got it.