The video of the comic of the song about a young man with a sharp tongue
As Winston Churchill once remarked, “getting older is sometimes reminiscent of browsing the r/amItheasshole subreddit only to think to yourself, time and time again, oh crap - it’s me: I’m the asshole!”
A lot of quotes get misattributed to the legendary British Prime Minister, so maybe he didn’t say those exact words. Nonetheless, self-reflection of that slightly bitter nature does appear to be an element of Sharp Tongue, the latest song from John Dog. While the pointed lyric is ostensibly an attack on its central character, the song may not be as wholly accusatory as it sounds. “I like that saying from Alan Bleasdale to the effect that every time you point a finger at someone you point four back at yourself,” says Dog. “He may have been talking about how an artist might sometimes unintentionally reveal something about themselves with their work, but Sharp Tongue might be the opposite.” Pushed further on the topic, Dog laughs and explains: “Look, I wrote it, there’s obviously bits of me in the character. But is Sharp Tongue the uncomfortably frank confession of a recovering asshole hiding behind a third-person narrative device? I can neither confirm nor deny that!”
Musically, the song borrows heavily from 60s French pop in general and Serge Gainsbourg in particular. “I actually had to finally buy a bass guitar for this one,” Dog confesses. “That beautiful big, reverb-y, sometimes heavy plec bass sound you hear - y’know, like Carole Kaye on the Beach Boys records or Dave Richmond on Je T’Aime - is just not replicable with Garageband’s bass sample library, or not by me at least. I was driving up the high-end EQ and piling on the reverb but those perfectly lovely sampled sounds which I’ve used for years were just turning to mush. I broke them! Real strings were needed so real strings I got.”
"Oh Serge, I had the most teddible dream last night, where we *weren't* the coolest people who ever lived! Can you imagine!"
Wait - did you say Je T’Aime, as in the French horndog epic from the 70s, banned in several countries over a (false) rumour that it featured the sounds of actual coitis between Serge Gainsbourg and co-creator Jane Birkin? “Yes! It’s one of the greatest recordings of all time,” Dog exclaims, “I find it incredibly sad. I get why it’s just regarded as this naughty, sexy thing - it’s both, to be fair - but I got into it because A: it’s just a fantastic composition with a truly beautiful melody and B: I felt it expressed this almost unbearable sadness. I thought this even before I knew what the lyrics were, and the translation seemed to confirm my feeling. It’s about sex alright, but maybe the last sex the characters in the song ever have - I don’t know, to me it’s totally heart-breaking.” Dog adds: “Gainsbourg was knocking out some all-time pop arrangements at this time too, with a real mastery of the fundamentals. His use of space and just-so instrumentation seems effortless in some of his 60s tracks. I tried to ape that a bit for Sharp Tongue, maybe when I came up with the intro riff. After a while that seemed to beg for a bit of that slightly dreamy, 70s Giallo soundtrack vibe.”
Rather than, say, the no-budget monster movie of London Falling or Sleep's faux-Cocteau fantasia, the promo clip that accompanies Sharp Tongue is more of a lyric video . “I’m proud of the lyrics in this song,” explains Dog, “and I wanted to have them front and centre, but I wanted to try and make that maybe a little bit more interesting than a straight-up lyric video.” To do so, Dog reached back to the comics he read as a teen, so called “underground” titles like Daniel Clowes’ Eightball, Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez’ Love And Rockets, and Dog’s all-time comicbook hero, Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot. “Every parent fears their child will fall in with a bad crowd - crooks, junkies, gangsters - but I fell in with the worst, most reckless cultural hoodlums you'll ever find: art students!” Dog says, explaining how his run-in and effective brain-washing by two older art students led to a life-altering exposure to the independent comic scene of the 80s and 90s. “A comic book-style video seemed like a good way to put those words onscreen in a fun way, rather than just an iMovie scroll or whatever. Plus, honestly, I will take any excuse to reference Flaming Carrot!” Follow Dog on social media via the links on the homepage to keep updated on this and all future releases!