Bonkers in Phoenix

Lyrics

(1)

[BRIX:]

Veins on leaves
A cat of kings (2)
A mouthful of seed (3)
A strand of beads
An hour of lust
A bucket of trust
It's time to rest
My shiny things
Pull them off
Pull them off
Pull them off of me

Little one, please don't cry
Shiny things you just can't buy

Trying to fix
Isn't broken
Letting dust
Inside old swings
Turning to rust
My shiny things
Pull them off
Pull them off
Pull them off of me

Little one, please don't cry
Shiny things you just can't buy

Trying to fix
Isn't broken
Locked in dust
Insect wings
Turning to rust
My shiny things
Turning to rust
My shiny things
Pull them off
Pull them off
Pull them off of me

Little one, please don't dry
Shiny things you just can't buy

[MARK:] Bonkers at Phoenix

You never know, though, eh? eh?
That Glastonbury... (4)
Would all people who want
Vegetarian burgers go on the left
And those who want meat burgers on the right
Car parking is available at Glastonbury Phoenix

Out of the back

You see me
Naughty wicker man, oogie man (5)
You see me, oogie man
M. Riley (6)

You mood swing
And from the day
Angles with you

Bonkers at Phoenix

Notes

1. A ballad written and sung by Brix, and doctored by MES, who sped up her voice and overlayed weird sounds and another vocal line (the two blocs of lyrics above are delivered more or less simultaneously). The effect is surprisingly successful, and actually enhances the beauty of Brix's contribution which otherwise may have been a bit pedestrian, and the more unfortunate aspects of Brix's singing are somehow mitigated by the change in speed. The Phoenix Festival was a music festival held in South Warwickshire near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1993 and 1994 (according to Zack, "Producer Mike Bennett insists that the song is actually titled 'Bonkers at Phoenix' and the title as we know it was a record label typo").

From Reformation:

MES: "Brix came up with this tune and it sort of reminded me of  the sort of bands of today, it struck me as a bit retro tune so I thought I would try and put it in the landscape of an open air festival because we don't do a lot of open air festivals" (Interview on Cheshire Choice FM, May 1995; reproduced in TBLY, issue 9, August 1997)

Brix herself comments in The Rise, The Fall and The Rise (via Dan) that "Bonkers in Phoenix" is based on a song she had written while back in LA called "Shiny Things": "I thought 'Shiny Things' was maybe one of the best things I'd ever written. I didn't even understand exactly what it was about - but it was extremely personal. When I look back at it now, it was inner child speaking. It was about not using the superficiality of outside influences to boost your self-esteem; but that all your strength and good feelings come from within you, are not false... Happiness comes from the inside. It was a really special song. When I wrote it, I dug down really fucking deep." She expected great things of it, a lovely duet with Mark to go with the "gorgeous, subtle soundscape counter-melody" played by Scanlon. But of course: "Mark obliterated the song, in my opinion. He put the most ugly, vile noises on it, and drowned out any of the delicacy, and sped up my voice so I sounded like a cartoon demon - Alvin and the Chipmunks on crack. He wiped off Craig's guitar... Mark says it was meant to be an experimental exercise of wandering between bands playing simultaneously at a festival... but I think he just wanted to destroy something that was special to me."

This is not an outlandish supposition, anyone listening to MES's contributions on the track will realize. At the same time, as horrible as this is, I defy you to do so without giggling once or twice...

^

2. "A cat may look at a king" is an old proverb (dating back to at least the 16th century) which indicates that there are exceptions to the prerogatives of social station. Much as I hate to turn the place into a teen mag, in context it may be relevant to note that both Smiths have been said to be cat lovers.

^

3, A double entendre that is perhaps unintentional, but perhaps not, considering the upcoming reference to "an hour of lust." 

^

4. The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is held each year near Pilton, Somerset, and features rock bands.

^

5. A "wicker man" was a large wicker effigy supposed to be ignited by the Druids as part of a human sacrifice. The 1973 British movie The Wicker Man is considered a classic work of kitschy horror. Apparently, a wicker man is ignited every year at the Glastonbury fesitval. One of the funniest parts of the song is MES intoning "oogie man" over Brix's earnestly plaintive, if doctored, vocal efforts.

Antoine says:

There's a character in The Nightmare Before Christmas film named Mr. Oogie Boogie / The Oogie Boogie Man, a sort of ghost made up of burlap sacking (somewhat reminiscent of a wicker man figure) filled with insects. 

^

6. I do not know what Marc Riley is doing here, aside from his duties as all-purpose whipping boy. Perhaps MES imagines him being placed inside the Wicker Man.  

^

Comments (7)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 26/08/2014

Assuming this is the album version, the Brix segment is missing some lines, mainly repeats of the couplet

Little one, please don't cry
Shiny things you just can't buy

And the MES segment goes like this, to my ears:

Bonkers at Phoenix
You never know, though, eh? eh?
That Glastonbury
Would all people who want vegetarian burgers go on the left
And those who want meat burgers on the right
Car parking is available at Glastonbury Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix
See me
You see me
You see me
Naughty wicker man, oogie man
You see me, oogie man, oogie man
M Riley
You mood swing
And from the day
Angles with you
Out of the back
Bonkers at Phoenix
Bonkers at Phoenix

dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 05/05/2016

In Brix's The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, she confirms that 'Bonkers in Phoenix' is based on a song she had written while back in LA called 'Shiny Things':


I thought 'Shiny Things' was maybe one of the best things I'd ever written. I didn't even understand exactly what it was about - but it was extremely personal. When I look back at it now, it was inner child speaking. It was about not using the superficiality of outside influences to boost your self-esteem; but that all your strength and good feelings come from within you, are not false... Happiness comes from the inside. It was a really special song. When I wrote it, I dug down really fucking deep.


She expected great things of it, a lovely duet with Mark to go with the "gorgeous, subtle soundscape counter-melody" played by Scanlon.

But of course:


Mark obliterated the song, in my opinion. He put the most ugly, vile noises on it, and drowned out any of the delicacy, and sped up my voice so I sounded like a cartoon demon - Alvin and the Chipmunks on crack. He wiped off Craig's guitar... Mark says it was meant to be an experimental exercise of wandering between bands playing simultaneously at a festival... but I think he just wanted to destroy something that was special to me.

Zack
  • 3. Zack (link) | 06/01/2017

Producer Mike Bennett insists that the song is actually titled "Bonkers at Phoenix" and the title as we know it was a record label typo.

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 22/01/2017

Sounds plausible. But where does he say this?

bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 28/01/2017

Yeah, that title would make more sense.

Zack
  • 6. Zack | 29/01/2017

Dannyno: "Bonkers at Phoenix" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk1og6amWgc - 19:27

Antoine
  • 7. Antoine | 17/03/2017

There's a character in The Nightmare Before Christmas film named Mr. Oogie Boogie / The Oogie Boogie Man, a sort of ghost made up of burlap sacking (somewhat reminiscent of a wicker man figure) filled with insects.

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