The Undertones: “Wednesday Week”
Continuing in the “I’m in Ireland for a bit, so why not post a song from an Irish band — oh, what’s this? They’re from Northern Ireland? Oh well.” vein that I started in last week with Van Morrison, today’s song is a great single by the Northern Irish punk band, The Undertones. The Undertones were one of the most melodic of the bands to emerge in the late ’70s punk era, hitting big in the U.K. with the single, “Teenage Kicks,” on their 1979 debut (one of late, great D.J. John Peel’s favorite songs). By the time their second album, Hypnotised, came out in 1980, calling them punk would be a somewhat loose approximation; they were more punkish pop-rock, too good-natured to be lumped in with bands like the Jam or the Sex Pistols.
Lead singer Feargal Sharkey’s odd, quavery voice takes a little getting used to, but once you do you can’t help but be drawn in by the Undertones’ energetic, short-and-catchy songs. They had very solid albums, but you would do well with their singles collections — songs from different albums work just as well together as the songs that were recorded at the same time. One of my favorites of the many great singles they had is Hypnotised‘s “Wednesday Week” — not to be confused with the early Elvis Costello song of the same name. It’s fairly sophisticated instrumentally, blending acoustic guitar with the distorted electrics and utilizing the space between the chords quite nicely. “Wednesday week” is a British grammatical construction meaning the Wednesday a week after the coming Wednesday, and I’m not entirely sure how it fits into the song’s meaning, as Feargal sings that “Wednesday week she loved me,” thereby inserting a mention of the past into something that means a date that hasn’t happened yet. Unless it can also go in the other direction and mean a week prior to the most recent Wednesday. Hmmm. Or you can not worry about all that and take the song at its basic face value as a song of sadness over his girlfriend breaking up with him. And enjoy the catch melody while you’re at it.