Songstories #9 The Last Man To Touch You

This is a strange one. I guess the primary influence here is Momus.

Momus. The eyepatch is for medical reasons not pirate chic.
Momus. The eyepatch is for medical reasons not pirate chic. Photo by Momus

Momus is a singer-songwriter, video maker, and author who lives in Japan. He’s actually Scottish by birth. His real name is Nick Currie. During the 80s he released a series of albums which moved gradually from being acoustic guitar based to electronica.  ( In terms of soundalikes, he moved from sounding like Al Stewart to sounding like the Pet Shop Boys. ) His songs at that period were almost exclusively about sex and sexual relationships, often from pretty daring viewpoints.

From the start he was unusually articulate and literary in his writing, and this was matched by  a musical and melodic sensibility well beyond most singer-songwriters of the period.

I came across him when he put out a three track EP of Jacques Brel covers; my song Ricky is based on his Nicky, which in turn is based on Brel’s Jackie. His version of Ne Me Quitte Pas is far superior in its translation and distillation of the essence of the song than the more well known If You Go Away.

That led me to his albums, starting with The Poison Boyfriend (1987) and its stunning and audacious Three Wars (the ages 14-18, 39-45 and old age expressed in the imagery of World Wars I, II and III) and Sex For the Disabled, a furious attack on Thatcherism set to sweet pop chords.  In 1988 he put out his most popular work Tender Pervert, every song on which is a gem. A strange and twisted gem but a gem nonetheless. Timelord from 1993 contains my favourite Momus song, Christmas on Earth.

For a while it looked like he might become a pop star but he was always too left field, and since the 80s has worked away at album after album, too many for me to follow, but always rewarding when I’ve listened. He’s also blogged, published successful books, made countless videos and performed live.

His classic 80s and 90s albums from the Creation label are available as free downloads with commentaries on every song.

Now that my advert for Momus is out of the way, it’s clear that when I wrote The Last Man To Touch You it was inspired by Momus – the strange sexual viewpoint of a man following his wife to her meetings with lovers, the ‘Europop’ melody.

At first I thought it was too derivative to keep working on, but I couldn’t let it go; I loved the tune and really enjoyed singing it. It got good responses from friends and audiences so I recorded it for All The Time In Heaven, with Mary Robbs contributing violin.

I remember having a dilemma about the title of the song. If I called it The Last Man To Touch You, was that giving away too much of the story?  For a while I called it just The Last Man, but that sounded too much like a sci-fi cliche and eventually I used the full title. Strange that we worry about stuff like that!

Here’s a video of James Whyte and me doing the song on Pol’s live videostream, just because a friend liked it a lot.

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