Monday, January 4, 2010

"One of Many", Drunk 1993 New West

This first of many covers that I will include in this blog, 'One Of Many' is a lovely take on a writing by English poet Miss Stevie Smith. This is one of two poems that Vic attempted by Stevie, the other being 'Not Waving But Drowning' (which can be found on Little.) Both poems can be found in print on the 1962 New Directions Paperback Selected Poems, and in the case of "One of Many', on a record entitled The Poet Speaks.

Florence Margaret "Stevie" Smith was a British born poet whom, not unlike Vic, would set words to introspective topics such as death, loss , love and religion. She also could be both intimately funny and serious all at once in her poems. She also was very clever and inventive. It's easy to see the attraction that Vic had in her.

Vic often credited his mature, ruminative writing style to a (famously shoplifted) edition of "The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry." His discovery of Stevie probably also came from that misdemeanor.

The poem (as well as her 'performance') both have a sense of mortality and remorse to them. The story is a telling of an incident in which a boy is told that he's nothing special, lumped into a category, and made to feel anything but unique. That 'knowledge' worked his mind "into such a pitch", enraging him to finally murder his friends. It's a poetically social satire, and quite understandable that Vic would choose to cover it.

The album Drunk was released in 1993, originally on the now defunct Texas Hotel records. It was, at the time, Vic's dark record, and reeks of boozy arrangements and self serving lyrics. It was an appropriately titled album. Several standout track emerged from all the cacophony, however, including Supernatural, Kick My Ass, and this one.

I'm partial to this track and especially the fact that Vic left Stevie's introduction intact. The result is a moody and somber cut among several upbeat, raucous tracks. It sticks out like a sore thumb...which is a good thing.

Further reading:

Here's the version by Stevie from The Poet Speaks:

And here is Vic's version:

you're only one of many

of small account if any

you think about yourself too much

this touch the child with the quick touch

and worked his mind to such a pitch,

he threw his fellows in a ditch

this little child who was so mild is grown too wild

"murder in the first degree," cried old fury

recording the verdict of the jury

now we come to the execution tree

the gallows stand wide on me

"Christ died for sinners," explained the prison chaplain

from his miscellany

weeping bitterly,

the little child cried," I die one of many"


  1. This is a superb blog - the perfect tribute

  2. I agree. Thanks for writing this blog.

  3. Yeah, thanks. This really is a terrific site.

  4. Stevie Smith's house is not too far from where i live - must pay it a visit