Tommy James and the Shondells was a Sixties rock group best known for Crimson and Clover, I Think We’re Alone Now and the UK number one Mony Mony.
In his new collection, Bad Machine (Bloodaxe, £9.95), George Szirtes has penned a tribute to the Shondells’s finest moment. The poem begins as an evocation of the electrifying effect a piece of music can have on a room, before reflecting on the way in which, like Proust’s madeleine, it can transport the listener back to an earlier time. By the end, however, the poem takes a deeper turn, detecting in the seemingly simple pop song primal urges.
When Mony Mony starts up the room stops
whatever it’s doing and begins to frame
something it needs to say. The music is a game
it learns then forgets. Temperature drops
inside it as if time were running backwards
to where Tommy James falls through a trapdoor
of memory and disappears through floor after floor
till he ends up here with these notes and these words.
The Shondells tremble with electricity. Drums
generate invisible bodies in the dark
holding a grey diffuse space and charging all
of it. Here she comes now. Here is the spark
that passes between them. Here are the magical
ingredients: death, fury, yearning. Here she comes.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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