Once Around the Block – Badly Drawn Boy (The Hour of Bewilderbeast, 2000)
From the jaw-droppingly perfect debut album of Badly Drawn Boy, aka Damon Gough, the careening “Once Around the Block” has been one of my all-time favorite songs since it came out. Part nursery-rhyme, another part eclectic genius this unbelievable track was singer-songwriter catnip from the first plucks of his warble-ly guitar.
The song takes us through several twists and turns and lyrically is vague, but sheer poetry. He offers “You quiver like a candle on fire, I’m calling you out, maybe tonight we could be the last shout! I’m fascinated by stars. Your beauty will last for awhile”. And he’s just getting warmed up. The guitar is beautifully jittery throughout as he shifts tempos seamlessly. Another lyrical nugget is “I can see the vision in your eyes, your innocence no longer fuels surprise”. At around the 2:00 minute mark the song shifts gears as he takes us to another corner of the Badly Drawn universe. He bursts out some Beach Boys tricks as he collects himself for the final push. We’re joined by xylophone as he hits us with some classic narration “take a left, a sharp left, then another left, meet me on the corner and we’ll start again”.
One thing that I also want to add is having seen BDB during this era (2000-2001), you’ll never see another lights out performer who can just go down some weird roads. This shambling classic is about the best example of how a guy who can be such a mess can also be the most brilliant S.O.B you’ve ever come across.