Graham Parker and the Rumour Warm My Working Class Heart

STORY BY Holly Ramos

Published: May 27, 2013

When I was a youngster, our working class one bedroom housed a family of four. We did not have surplus. Everything was meager. All I had was precious. The few books and magazines were worn with use, and the few LPs were even more used up. I knew every word, every breath, in the songs contained therein, found something I could hang onto in every well-written phrase. Back then, when music was the way, the truth, and the light, it saved my life on a daily basis.

Yesterday, while writing a song with a friend, he mentioned You Can’t be Too Strong, one of the tracks on Graham Parker and the Rumour’s 1979’s Squeezing Out Sparks, which was voted album of the year by the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll, and which happened to be in that precious stack of very worn and well loved early records. I have not listened to it for a long while.

Like finding something of great value that you did not even remember losing, I felt sorrow and joy remembering the song in my head. Like a kid, I could not wait to play it. You Can’t Be Too Strong, a song about an abortion sung with attitude, anger, defense, and vulnerability, used to make me cry over things I knew nothing about. It still sounds pretty great, raw and honest.

Graham is a British singer songwriter and his music has elements of Elvis Costello’s tight angry pop as well as Van Morrison blue eyed soul. What I never noticed before is that Parker, now an elder statesman, sounds like Bob Dylan, if Dylan still sounded like himself. He has been doing some version of playing, writing, recording, or touring for the last 50 years! It’s just what he does.

Recently, Graham Parker got back together with that original band, the Rumour, and they recorded their first album together in 31 years, Three Chord Good. It was shocking to see an album cover of guys with white hair, but that is what can happen in 30 years. Less shocking, and more impressive was that its still all there, the voice, the edge, the soul, the attitude, the well-written phases, and the sound. Something about these guys making a record and touring it warms my working class heart punk rock heart. God Bless us all.

You can see Graham Parker and the Rumour in the film This Is 40, playing themselves. You can still catch the tail end of the east coast tour including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on April 19th. Worth the trip, my friends.

Other Stories by Holly Ramos
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