THERE are fewer things more embarassing than getting caught mid air guitar or its singing equivalent, getting caught reciting lyrics that have no relevance to you or your life.
Typically that can mean being found rapping about the thug life and pimpin' bitches in the hood when you are a 35-year-old white man living in a British or Irish suburb and commuting to and from a well paid job in the banking sector.(If such a position exists anymore.)
My version of getting caught like this happened today on the way into work and features heavily the music of the Chicagoan consciousness poet of black power Curtis Mayfield.
Those of you au fait with the great man's work will be aware of the now famous refrain from the live version of Mighty, Mighty (Spade and Whitey) where he incants four times "I gotta say it loud," before being joined by his band in a gutsy, dramatic and defiant chorus of "I'm black and I'm proud."
At this juncture it is apposite to note that I could not be more removed from either Curtis Mayfield or the 1970s Chicago/ Black Rights movement he represents. I am a rapidly expanding, white Irish man with a shocking singing voice much too poor or deep to affect that beautiful, pure Mayfield falsetto. I also have absolutely no sense of rhythm, so am utterly unqualified to replicate any soulfullness of Curtis's classic songs.
Well, it was at the end of my very loud second round of "I'm black and I'm proud," that I opened my eyes, ceased my authentic polyrhythmic clapping/ air bongo combination and glanced to the car also stopped at traffic lights to the right of me.(All windows open, sun dappled Stanley Road, Bootle, near Hugh Baird College if you want to complete the picture.)
The driver, archetypical Scouse mum - magenta hair with massive knock-off D&G shades stuck in said barnet - was in bulk laughing at me, pointing out the spectacle to a barely responsive toddler, who was also laughing his wee huggies off.
The lights went to green, I sped off towards the quirky exoticism of Kirkdale and the Eldonian Basin and Curtis launched into We People Who are Darker than Blue.
Now is there a better summer trio of songs in a playlist than Move on Up followed by Mighty, Mighty (Spade and Whitey)followed by We People...?
What are the strong summery songs with positive messages that can make you feel better or make you look a big eejit at traffic lights?