cover #24 – Suede, “The Wild Ones”

21 May

Cover #24, and yep, we’re still doing this, whether you like it or not, until we get 30, dammit, because I say so, is Suede’s “The Wild Ones”, from Dog Man Star, released in 1994 and written by Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler.

So, Suede never really got much attention in this country, and that’s really a pity.   You’ve maybe heard “The Beautiful Ones” or, more likely, “Filmstar”, if you sat through the credits after Eddie Izzard’s Dress To Kill comedy show.  But, man, they had some great songs.  This one in particular should have been the “In Your Eyes” of its generation.  It should have been in some movie, where boy loses girl and gets girl back again by playing her some heartwrenching ballad.

This, my friends, is a heartwrenching ballad.  I think it’s about Brett breaking up with Justine from Elastica, but I’m not sure.

Justine, by the way, went on to date Damon Albarn from Blur for several years (see cover #8, “End of a Century'” and, well, basically all of the albums Blur and 13.)   It should be noted that I freaking love Elastica.  Of all the bands that came out of that era – England from 1993-1998 aka “Britpop” – they were my favorite, moreso even than Oasis.   Unfortunately, Justine’s bandmates were all massive smack fiends and it’s really hard to be the best band in the world when everyone’s lying on the floor staring at the babies crawling on the ceiling instead of, you know, rehearsing.   So, Justine’s influence – apart from their self-titled 1993 record which gave the world “Connection” and 15 other rad little tunes – is mainly as the chief muse of the Britpop era.  She dated Brett from Suede, dumped him for Damon from Blur,  dumped him because he was being – let’s face it – kind of a dick, and then went on to host a home improvement show of some type.  The whole thing is written up beautifully in the book The Last Party, which I’ve re-read many, many times because I’m a massive Britpop fanboy and it’s sad.

There’s a story about what Suede means to me, but it’s sort of personal.   I mean, it’s dumb high school stuff, mostly, but I’m putting a break here in case you don’t care/feel uncomfortable with the idea of me talking about kissing girls and such.


Now then:  there was this girl I went to high school with who I kinda dug.  We’ll call her “Justine.”  Justine and I were in chorus together, and we were both in the school musical.  She was really pretty, and she liked the Cranberries a lot.  So, I learned “Ode To My Family” and “Zombie” and “Linger” and even “Daffodil’s Lament” to impress her, and it sort of did, at first, before she wound up with some guy she met at camp or something.  Oh well.  By that point, I’d moved on to another crush – a really bad, massive, traumatizing crush- on a girl we’ll call – what the hell – “Patsy Kensit.”

Around the same time, I was really good friends with a guy – we’ll call him “Brett.”   Coincidentally, Brett was Patsy’s brother, but we would have been friends even if I wasn’t trying to get with his sister at the time.  We were in German class together, and he, too, was in the school musical.  As was Patsy, for that matter.

Brett and I would always be in the same German group, and we’d have a big ol’ time conjugating and learning the “der, die, das” and so forth.  He was tall and goofy – you know the type – but his goofiness had a sting to it.  He was a lot sharper than he let on.  The next year, we were in the same study hall, along with Justine.  He really took a likin’ to her that year.  They became really good friends.  He wanted them to be more than friends, but she still dug Dude From Camp Or Whatever.

There’s a lot of stories from that study hall, but we’ll leave those for another time.   The important thing here is that Brett really liked Justine, and that summer I gave Justine a ride home from a party and it turned out that she was completely over Dude From Camp Or Whatever and she instead liked – um – me.

Now look: I was not a player in high school.  I had horrible hair and horrible skin and I was a massively annoying twit who spoke in Animaniacs references, that’s what I was.   And I had no idea that Brett liked Justine that much, because I was an oblivious twit and dudes don’t talk about that sort of thing, unless you’re me and you spend all of junior year telling everyone how in love you are with “Patsy Kensit”; everyone, that is, except “Patsy Kensit”.

So, this girl, this really pretty girl, who I used to kind of like,  says she likes me, and I’m heading off to college in like three weeks, and I’m seventeen years old, and thus not legally accountable for my actions, and I’m the sort of guy girls asked to hold their coats because they wanted to show a little more skin whilst they flirted with the asshole with the lipring at the mall, and this girl is saying she totally likes me, and “Just Like Heaven” is on the radio.  Of course we made out something fierce.

I went off to college, and we hooked up/dated a little when I came home from break, and then we broke up because the college/high school relationship is never a good idea.  Everything seemed normal until that spring, when I started getting harrassing comments on my old website from somebody calling themselves – I kid you not – “Brett Anderson.”

I mean, this shit was relentless.   This was back in 1998, mind you, before everyone in the world had a personal website of some sort, and this Brett Anderson character was all like “your website’s all about you and you suck and who wants to read this and you still wear the same stupid shirt you wore in high school and I’m going to kill you if you don’t shut up” and blah blah blah.  Every day.  Every time I’d update, there’d be more crap.  I didn’t get it.   At the time, I hadn’t heard of Suede because I went to school in Maine, and Maine never cottoned to bands without absurdly long guitar solos or beards.   Brett Anderson must be some sort of jerk, I thought.

Anyway, this kept up for a while, until I finally took my comments page down.  Justine contacted me later that year over IM, or so I thought, until I noticed that she kept mis-spelling the name of the college she was going to.  I mentioned this to another friend back home – we’ll call him “Jarvis Cocker” – and Jarvis said “oh crap, that’s ‘Brett’, he’s really messed up about the fact that you and ‘Justine’ went out.”

Which is when I realized: Brett Anderson was ‘Brett.”  Okay, so that’s where my weird re-naming thing falls apart.  Sorry about that.  You follow?  Good.  Moving on.

I stil didn’t know who Brett Anderson was, or why ‘Brett’ would use that as a pseudonym, until I read… yep… The Last Party, about six years later, and realized that Brett was “Brett Anderson”, and he thought “Justine” was Justine Frischmann, and I…. dammit, I was Damon Albarn from Blur, who had “stolen” Justine away from him.  Which is why he picked the name “Brett Anderson” to attack me.   Clever.

Incidentally, “Brett” and “Patsy” (and sometimes “Jarvis”)  used to go to The Pill, which is where I last saw them, and we were sort of club friends for a while.  We’re all cooler than we used to be.   “Brett” had a very serious girlfriend/fiancee last I saw him, “Patsy” seems happy and stable, and we all got along well.   “Justine” apparently married someone from Albania or something, and is now working in the DC area, doing interesting stuff with museums.

Anyway: whenever I hear Suede, I think about that whole situation, and how weird it was.  And how, for a while there, I was genuinely worried that Brett Anderson was going to physically assault me.

Next up…: mumble grr something don’t care go away.


One response to “cover #24 – Suede, “The Wild Ones”

  1. E. Christopher Clark

    May 22, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Good song. Good story behind the song.


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