Dexys Midnight Runners – This Is What She's Like

Quite simply one of the greatest, and most ingenious, love songs ever written. Brilliantly sung and performed, it’s the crowning glory of Kevin Rowland’s career.

Beginning with an almost Beckettian spoken-word intro, it soon jumps into what is essentially Rowland’s homage to Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late To Stop Now album: big horns, a Stax-like drive, and energy and excitement from a group of superb musicians who know exactly how to please their leader.

What’s unique is the way the song is structured. It’s basically Rowland having a conversation with his friend Bill, trying to explain what the object of his desire is like. Which he does by stating what she’s *not* like. So she’s not like CND scum. Or like people who iron creases in old pairs of jeans. Or like the “newly wealthy peasants with their home bars and hi-fis.” When he’s finished making these comparisons, and when he’s had enough of Bill’s constant pressure to say what she’s like, Rowland dispenses with words and simply starts grunting and wailing. It’s then that Bill finally understands what she’s like.

What I love about the song is that Rowland manages to get across two distinct personalities – he tells us what she’s like and he tells us what he’s like. This is not a man who simply surrenders himself, who is content merely to wax lyrical about some girl. He has to – because his ego is so big – get all of his own obsessions in there too. It’s fucking brilliant and I can’t think of any other love song that manages to be so clever, so affecting, so soulful, so funny and so strange all at the same time.

But more than that, what the song does is convey that feeling of what it’s like to be in love. Of how tall you walk, of how invincible you feel and of how much you want to shout about it from the rooftops. Which is why it was everything to me when I was courting my Shannon. If I could have chosen one song to have written and dedicated to her, this would have been it.

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About Paul Saxton

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One Response to Dexys Midnight Runners – This Is What She's Like

  1. Darren says:

    Thanks for this post Paul.

    What a hugely positive song – which says so much about male relationships too. It could Jerry and George meeting at Monks – The Likely Lads before Thelma.

    Somewhere in the world, right now there are two fellas having this conversation – and the ‘Kevin’ of the duo will be equally as light headed – feet leaving the ground.

    Watch the video, good people – you’ll catch my drift.

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