Adler on the Housemartins: Sunday Song Lyric

Lynne Kiesling

While I’m out reading around … Jonathan Adler asks “Who remembers the Housemartins?” I do, I do! I actually liked them better than their Beautiful South spinoff, although both have a dark humor and a tight, jangly, pop-y vibe that was one of my favorite themes in British music in the 1980s. Sadly, I haven’t listened to them in years, because it’s all on vinyl, in a box up in my home office/attic …

Speaking of tight, jangly British music, I had my own 80s music revival experience on Friday night, when the KP Spouse and our friend Sharon and I went to see Lloyd Cole and his new group, the Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble, at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Lloyd Cole has always impressed me as a clever and inventive songwriter, accompanied by his clear and distinctive voice and spare, clean guitar lines. With his original band the Commotions, he created two albums that were in regular rotation on my stereo. Even today I still have LC&TC songs and Lloyd Cole solo songs figuring prominently on playlists on my iPod; “Four Flights Up”, “Perfect Skin”, and “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?” are awesome, and his solo “A Long Way Down” has this most excellent lyric:

Didn’t I hear you say your heart’s made out of steel
And no one’s gonna get so close
No one’s gonna know how you feel

Now you’re a punch drunk sycophant
A little SOB
You say your mind is made up
Isn’t that the way that it’s supposed to be?

“Punch drunk sycophant” has since become one of my favorite phrases. And finally, to reinforce his status as a music icon, in 2006 Camera Obscura (a fine, lovely Scottish band!) released their song “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken.” (link will play the song on, give it a listen!). If you are an 80s Lloyd Cole & the Commotions fan who’s not listened in a while, or if you have never heard of him before, give him and his new band a listen; it’ll be worth your attention.

Oh, and today’s his birthday. Happy birthday Lloyd!