The Songs of Summer #51: ‘He’s on the Beach’ by Kirsty MacColl
Is it possible to fall in love with somebody just by hearing her sing? I think it is, because that’s how I feel about English pop singer Kirsty MacColl. Hers is one of my all-time favorite voices, one that is largely unknown in this country, and that’s a damn shame. ‘He’s on the Beach‘ is definitely one of my Songs of Summer. It’s one of my Songs of Anything, period.
Best known for her 1979 British hit ‘They Don’t Know‘ (made more famous here by Tracey Ullman’s inferior 1983 cover) as well as her duet with Shane MacGowan on The Pogues’ absolutely brilliant ‘Fairytale of New York.’
The insanely catchy melodies and her densely layered vocals on her early singles are all well worth hearing. Her later 90’s albums took her down a more mature, adult-oriented musical track…But it’s her 2000 album ‘Tropical Brainstorm‘ that’s my absolute favorite. With most of the tracks featuring tropical rhythms, electronic flourishes, and Kirsty’s biting and often humorous lyrics, I fell in love with this album at first listen and it remains one of my favorite albums to this day. Please, check it out.
Sadly, Kirsty MacColl never got to be the global superstar she so richly deserved to be…Shortly after Tropical Brainstorm was released, Kirsty was tragically killed in Mexico while on vacation with her family when she was struck by a boat while snorkeling. She was only 41 years old. The world lost a major, major talent, and what’s worse is that most people never had the chance to hear her music. If I can change that in some tiny way, even if it’s just one pair of ears, I will consider that a huge step in the right direction.
‘On the Beach‘ was a 1985 single, about a man who has to take off and find himself, to find his happiness, written from the perspective of a friend left behind who misses him but hopes he’s found what he’s looking for where he’s ended up, which is on the beach. A lovely song, poignant lyrics and an irresistible, catchy melody.
Kirsty MacColl left us much too soon, but she left behind a treasure trove of incredible music, just waiting to be discovered. Go exploring…