Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Only Living Boy in New Cross

Indie outfit Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (or Carter USM as they were often known) took SE14 into the top 10 of the UK singles chart in 1992 with 'The Only Living Boy in New Cross' - it reached number 7, though the album it was on, '1992 - The Love Album', reached number one.

Must admit it was years later that I realized that it was a pun on the lovely Simon & Garfunkel song, The Only Living Boy in New York. Puns on South London locations were Carter's stock in trade, with other songs including '24 Minutes From Tulse Hill' and 'The Taking Of Peckham 123'. I think they were actually Brixton/Streatham based - one of them used to live on my road in Brixton when I was over there.

With its reference to 'gypsies, the travellers and the thieves... grebos the crusties and the goths', I always imagine that this song was inspired by the 1990s scene in The Dewdrop Inn, a pub with just such a crowd (just as the Crystal Palace Tavern in Tanners Hill had in the 1970s, according to an interesting recent comment at this earlier post). Anyway here they are on Top of the Pops in 1992 (the original video for the song is here):

Sang this great South London folk song a lot when I was with the Brockley Ukulele Group.


patrick1971 said...

Love this song. Thanks so much for posting it. I spent eight happy years in New Cross and although I've now moved out a bit to slightly leafier Crofton Park I still have a bit of a soft spot for it.

I too always thought it referred to the scene at the Dew Drop Inn; history by the time I got to New Cross in 1999, although friends of mine who went to Goldsmiths remember it well.

The Dew Drop had an incarnation as a gay pub about 1997/98; very nice as I recall but, like all gay pubs that come and go in SE14, not well patronised. It was then a really manky old man's pub in 1999/2000, never anyone in there, and then shut down and is now flats. Probably the only realistic course of action; the walk across the park at night is a bit intimidating, and the rough estate on the other side furnishes the only other clientele.

Oh and Transpontine I've not forgotten about scanning the Select article about the Belle & Sebastian evening at the Paradise Bar; it's in a box somewhere which I'm about to unpack in the next few weeks, so will get on to it.

Transpontine said...

I was never a Dewdrop regular myself, I was living in Brixton at its high point, though I did sometimes drink there before going to the Venue. Didn't realize it was a gay pub before it closed.

When I first moved to South London, the Goldsmiths Tavern was a gay pub, then in the 1990s it took the place of the Dewdrop as the punky/crusty/toker hangout.

JonathanM said...

...and here is JimBob singing the same song in June this year at the launch of his novel Storage Stories at The Bookseller Crow.