The Uses of Literacy-ah

A rewarding piece, I thought, in today’s Guardian, by Lynsey Hanley, about the decline of Working Mens’ Clubs, and the style of amateur singer to whom they used to provide a home (it’s here – Tonight\’s special turn ).

In it, she quotes from Richard Hoggart’s  The Uses of Literacy :

“Hoggart termed it the ‘big dipper’ style of singing, or ‘the verbal equivalent of rock-making, where the sweet and sticky mass is pulled to surprising lengths and pounded; there is a pause in which each emotional phrase is completed, before the great rise to the next and over the top.

The result is something like this: You are-er the only one-er for me-er/ No one else-er can share a dream-er with me-er/ Some folks-er may say-er …'”

I have often wondered what it was that prompted  Mark E. Smith of the Fall to develop his distinctive style of vocal delivery, which involved appending an -er, or possibly an -ah to the end of every other word, but I think this suggests one explanation.  Whether he was inspired directly by Hoggart’s book, or had just spent a great deal of time in Working Mens’ Clubs as  a child, I cannot say.  Both are equally possible.

An illustration of the Mark E. Smith club style here – Totally Wired – for those who might not have previously been aware of it.

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