Birdwatchers keep lists. It’s what birdwatchers do. Many of them only watch birds in order to have something to keep lists of. Seasonal lists, regional lists, annual lists. Lists of birds seen out of the bathroom window. Lists of birds brought in by the cat.
I wonder if anyone keeps an iTunes list. Apart from me, as of just now.
It’s curious that birds are a focus of so much poetry but so little pop. They crop up in folk-songs every now and then, but then they’re either vague (I’ve three versions of a song where a lady turns into a swan, but none of them specifies whether it’s a Whooper, Bewick’s or Mute: amateurish) or signify something dirty (musical versions of Robert Burns’s The Yellow Yellow Yorlin’ leave no one in any doubt as to what the yellowhammer represented to the roistering ploughman-poet (clue: it’s a fanny)).
My rules are: (i) no vaguenesses (so no ‘crows’, ‘swans’, ‘thrushes’ or (sorry Nick Cave) ‘loons’), (ii) no folk, and (iii) no puns. As a result, my iTunes list pretty much starts and finishes with the first Guillemots album.
(Side-note: I remember reading a Guardian music journalist musing on whether the band-name should be said gweel-mots or jeel-moes – this is the only instance in which my ornithological knowledge has helped me to feel more hip than a Guardian music journalist – or, indeed, anyone).
And this is where we wake in the ditch;
This is where our bodies sing no more;
Fallen apples on the floor, pecked at by redwings.
‘Redwings‘, from the album Through The Windowpane (2006). The same album, though a bit more perfunctorily, also gives us curlews (in ‘Sao Paulo’). So that’s two.
Now I’m a bit stumped. The Fleet Foxes give us ‘Meadowlarks‘, but I’m not very up on North American birds, and things are going to get tricky if I start straying from the British List. Erin McKeown provides the best of various blackbird options, but that’s just boring. And I can’t even be bothered with robins.
I gather that Elbow are all birdwatchers. Doves, too. Oh, and Edwyn Collins, it says here. Maybe they’ve written something with an interesting bird in it. I’ll look into it.
Is this the most trivial Clutterbuck yet? I’ll look into that, too.