I don’t know what’s left to be said about Spider bags except maybe “So Long a Rope” is one of the most magnificently depressing songs I’ve ever heard as well as being as accurate and painful a look at a failed romance filled with hints and allegations and one of the great Lennon quotes “She’s not a girl who misses much…” from “Happiness Is A Warm gun” and it isn’t armed forces baffling Dan McGee or the hidden concern which haunts Spider Bags stunning “A Celebration Of Hunger” it is the chorus: “I need a fix cos I’m going down…” which seems to dangle like the rope he wants to tie himself to.
“Celebration” is ABOUT, if it’s about anything, how relationships tear us apart again and on “Rope” everything is torn and sundered. The verse goes “So long a rope” (first great pun) “so short the fall” and while the rest of the band merrily sing along on a jaunty country ramble it slowly dawns how fucked up the singer is… This girl who he loves in some way o”just wanted to be a mother but I wouldn’t let her” and the relationship seems to implode in if not a suicide attempt at least a thought of a way out.
Is this McGee? i don’t believe in the autobiography song. Even if McGee thinks he is writing about what happened with this girl (over and over again on “Celebration”) he isn’t because the very act of describing what happened in lyric is a quantum act : the reality is changed by the act of preserving it. And it is important because whatever it might mean to singer-songwriter McGee to study his pain, if he is changing it by changing mediums or by sharing his pain, it isn’t what actually happened. reality was something else and being with somebody, the sort of banality of love, disappears in the act of recording the love, so while McGee might want to say this is, or we might thing this is, his life in redux, it is not at all.
So what is “So Long A Rope” -ssuch a songwriterly song that it quotes from other songs and a certain knowledge of him or the meaning of “Spider bags” or an interview where he says it documents a bad time in his life- means he wants us to sing along with him at the same time he wants us to understand him and feel sorry for him. yeah, self-pity is the method of operation. If he had sung I’m a bastard and I am still going out and getting fucked up and fucking girls after the show and you (girl who wants to have my babies) shut the fuck up or I’ll smack you stupid -well, that is a million miles away from saying, I hurt you and I want to kill myself.
You see, for all it’s singalongyness we’re meant to get McGee’s tone is all in his voice and words and not at all in his arrangement. The Spidey sense in Spider bags of course. Which makes McGee just another sing-songwriter crying into his syringe. But a good one. A real, real good one.
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