Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head

Happy Monday everyone! Everything that I’ve heard by them is loud, catchy, aggressive, and with a power pop hook. I listened to the Buzzcocks in the 80s with some friends that owned some imports. I hoped they would break in America but never did.

The Buzzcocks crossed pop with punk. The Go-Go’s have said they were a huge influence. Jane Wiedlin said: “our favorite band, the band that we always tried to emulate was the Buzzcocks, who had that great pop song done in a punky style.”

Grunge bands admired the Buzzcocks also. Pearl Jam  invited the band to open US shows for them in 2003, including the Buzzcocks’ first ever appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Nirvana invited them to open dates on their last ever European tour, in early 1994.

Steve Diggle wrote this song and did the lead vocals on it. He said the “harmony” in the song is the sound of the crowd when they played.

To get the right sound for the song, Diggle smoked 20 cigarettes to get the gruff sound of the vocals. The song peaked at #32 in the UK charts in 1979. The song was just released as a single not an album.

They released 3 albums, 6 non-album singles, and broke up in 1981 after a dispute with their record company. They reunited in 1989 and released 6 more albums. Pete Shelley continued to play with the band until his death of a heart attack in 2018. The band still continues to tour with Diggle.

Steve Diggle: “I was reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is a heavy book but it had a lot of cinematic imagery – so ‘Harmony’ wasn’t a linear story like pop songs are. The Arndale Centre had just been built and it gave me a real sense of alienation. I wanted to walk down the street and hear the percolation of the crowds – that was the ‘harmony.’ Life was never going to be sweet and nice and it’s not always doom and gloom. The ‘Harmony In My Head’ was the sound of the crowd. That’s how real life is.”

From Songfacts

When Buzzcocks played their first concert, Steve Diggle was their bassist, but founding frontman Howard Devoto’s departure prompted the band to reshuffle, with Pete Shelley becoming lead vocalist/guitarist and Diggle moving from bass to guitar and co-vocalist.

Diggle also had a few early co-writing credits and contributed chords and choruses to “Promises” shortly after Pete Shelley’s “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).” “Harmony In My Head,” which reached #32 in the UK, is probably Diggle’s best known song.

 Engineer Alan Winstanley recalled to Uncut: “‘Harmony’ is interesting as it’s the only one Steve Diggle sings – it doesn’t have that Pete Shelley sweetness – but when he comes in on the chorus it really changes it. Then off Steve goes again with his growly voice.”

Released as a standalone single on July 13, 1979, the song spent six weeks on the UK singles chart, peaking at #32.

Harmony In My Head

Whenever I’m in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
Go out for my walking sailing social news
Don’t let it get me down I’m long in the tooth

When I’m out in the open clattering shoppers around
Neon signs that take your eyes to town
Your thoughts are chosen your world is advertising now
And extravagance matters to worshipers of the pound

But it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

The tortured faces expression out aloud
And life’s little ironies seem so obvious now
Your cashed in cheques have placed the payments down
And there’s a line of buses all wait to take you out

But it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a

It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

Whenever I’m in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don’t let it get me down I’m long in the tooth

‘Cause it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

In my head, in my head

Modernettes – Barbra

This 1980 song is from a Vancouver punk band called The Modernettes.

I ran across this song searching for power pop songs. This one is VERY Ramones like. It’s a fun song. They did play more than punk… they ventured into power-pop recordings.

There is a documentary about the Vancouver punk rock scene in the late 70s and early 80s with Henry Rollins and Duff Mckagan that includes the Modernettes called Bloodied and Unbowed…this is the trailer but the documentary is on there also.

The Modernettes were formed in 1979, with John Armstrong, aka Buck Cherry, and Mary Armstrong, aka Mary-Jo Kopechne (yea tasteless). John formed the Modernettes soon after drafting drummer John McAdams and Mary to form the three-piece lineup.

In 1980, the Modernettes recorded the debut EP Strictly Confidential. It was released under the Quintessence Records label. A second EP, Teen City, followed quickly. It included the band’s strongest and probably most popular song, “Barbara.” Though the group pulled together a strong following, true success eluded them.

The Modernettes only completed one full album, Get It Straight.

Barbra

there’s a new little girl in my home class
you know i’m talking about barbra
and everybodys thinks that she’s such a gas
b-a-r-b-r-a barbra

shes the girl i love forever
we’ll spend our lives together
barbra

well the dogs are gonna slide so she can pass
you know i’m talking about barbra
and everybodys looking and thats such a gas
b-a-r-b-r-a barbra
i envy the guy she kiss last
i just wanna skip class with barbra

there’s a new little girl in my home class
you know i’m talking about barbra
and everybodys thinks she’s such a gas
b-a-r-b-r-a barbra

shes the girl i love forever
you know im talking about barbra
talking about barbra
talking about barbra
talking about barbra