Sunday, November 23, 2008

Man on the Moon

If you were to spend your Sunday perusing our video index you'd find, amongst other things, Madonna's Ray of Light and I Like Trains' Rook House for Bobby.

Today's clip is not so much about the video but the tune itself. Is this REM track the only mainstream example of a song that contains a reference to chess? Of the top of my head I can't think of any others but I'd be delighted if there were more so please feel free to set me straight via the comments box.


SonofPearl said...

I've casually listened to that song before and never picked up on the lyric about chess. I'm not sure if that says more about my lack of attention, or just that no-one knows the words to most songs these days anyway...

Tom Chivers said...

Do the songs in 'Chess: The Musical' count as mainstream?!

Anonymous said...

Depends what's mainstream....

Yes : "Your Move", was certainly mainstream enough when I was at college and had more than a passing reference to chess.

Tom Chivers said...

Via google, there's a song by 'Weezer' called 'Chess':

chess is such a difficult game
there are so many pieces
so many squares where you can go
so few promises
never you mind all the others
anticipating your next move
i know it's hard cause you got a lot to do
street signs and traffic lights ever confusing me it's you
stop left, go right, no U-turn, where's the goddamn exit
never you mind all the others
influencing your next move
i know it's hard cause you got a lot to prove
sex and drugs and rock n' roll
pieces by rocking for you
this puzzle can't be done wrong
so cover 'em while you can
never you mind all the others
aniticipating your next move
never you mind all the others
never you mind what they do
don't let them get you down cause it's there too
you'll be trapped forever under their shoe
here is the paper so go
i know it's hard cause you got a lot to do
fa la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la~

Are 'Weezer' mainstream?! I have no idea.

Jonathan B said...

I've got two Weezer CDs so they count as mainstream - good find.

Chess the Musical doesn't count, sorry - coz it's a musical.

AJ said...

Anonymous said...

Rather than having a passing reference, as "Man on the Moon" does, Murray Head's "One Night in Bankok" (from the Chess muscial, yes, but it was a mainstream hit) is literally about the game.

Anonymous said...

Although it doesnt contain the word chess this must count ?

"The sweetest moment comes at least - the waitings over,
in shock they stare and cue fanfare.
When Bobby Fischer's plane - plane plane - touches the ground - he'll take those Russian boys and play them out of town,
playing for blood as grandmasters should."

From Cue fanfare, a Prefab Sprout Song.

Jack Rudd said...

"And far away, in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess"

- Chris De Burgh, Spanish Train

Anonymous said...

Depends what you mean by mainstream. Mainstream is an arbitrary construct - mainstream is whatever is played on the radio!

The Seventh Seal by Scott Walker (ref Ingmar Bergman)

Bad Losers on Yahoo Chess by Half Man Half Biscuit - have I mentioned that before?

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane - probably the definitive psychedelic song

For groups how about Emile Ford and the Checkmates for what is a checkmate if not something at the end of a chess game?

And don't forget Chess the record label for authentic blues and r and b.

Wasn't there a Dylan song that mentioned chess?


Anonymous said...

It was 'Only a Pawn in their Game' from his early period. Not really about chess as such.


ejh said...

There's Chess Records of course.

hylen said...

"White Rabbit" as said, from what I claim is the best rock album ever made.

Ebony Tower: "Black Knight" -

black knight - why the sigh (??) - thinks he is a player
white queen - hits the scene - gives the guys fare (?)
white king - does a ring (doesn't ring?) - hides behind his castle
rook moves - hits a groove - knight begins to hustle

checkmate . . . insane

you're playing . . . no (?) game

white queen - mates (makes?) the king - knuckles on his sword
pawn becomes a black queen - panic 'cross the board
?? in the way - bishop thinks he's gay
king's cross - all is lost (?) - resigns and ends the game

checkmate . . . insane

you're playing . . . in a game

A British group. They rock.

- hylen

Jonathan B said...

White Rabbit has a reference to chess in it? i didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

Something about 'men on the chessboard'. Then 'the white knight is talking backwards'.


ejh said...

It's a Through The Looking-Glass reference.

Jonathan B said...

so an indirect reference then?