This article is due to be published on Valentine’s Day and is honour of she who has been known as My Beloved Wife whenever mentioned in previous editions of this blog.
However, her identity (or at least name) is out of the closet with this article, which is a review of my favourite songs named after her (OK, none of the songs’ writers actually wrote them about her, but you know what I mean).
I didn’t actually track down any of these songs because of their names, and in fact most of them were in my collection long before we met, never mind got together or wed. However, they all mean a little more since we met and then merged.
It’s surprising how dark the lyrics to many of these songs are – there are clearly plenty of Christines out there not as nice as the one I know so well!
Anyway, to celebrate our impending seven years of marriage, here are my seven favourite Christine songs, in no particular order, although lyrically many of them do not describe my Christine or our relationship at all.
1. The House Of Love – Christine
Possibly the most famous Christine song, with what are actually quite sad and gloomy words when you concentrate on them:
“Christine, such a sense of loss and the baby cried… And the whole world dragged us down”
There’s also some positivity to the words, though, as she is described as having “a god-like glow” and it features some glorious guitar work from Terry Bickers.
A song I have loved ever since it first appeared as a single back in 1988 (and then on one of their multiple eponymous albums, this time their Creation debut), and is apparently the first song that lead singer Guy Chadwick wrote with the band in mind.
2. The Jasmine Minks – Christine
Seemingly a song about a dead junkie, so that’s cheerful. Recorded by the reformed 80’s indie band who never got the credit they deserved back in the day, although this isn’t their finest work by any means.
This was the only brand new song on their excellent 2-disc retrospective called Cut Me Deep that was issued on Cherry Red Records in 2014 and was written by lead singer Adam Sanderson.
I can’t link a clip here, so you’ll have to go to the Spotify playlist at the bottom to hear it.
3. Siouxsie & The Banshees – Christine
The Christine song I have known for the longest, this hit #22 in the UK singles charts in June 1980 before featuring on the Banshees’ third and possibly finest album Kaleidoscope, at the height of their psych period, one of my early CD purchases as I snapped it up for £7.99 from Record Collector in Sheffield in June 1989.
I’m not sure how positive this song is supposed to be as although Christine is described curiously as “the strawberry girl… banana split lady”, it later appears that she is “disintegrating” and possibly has “22 faces”, which seems a little excessive for anyone.
On doing some more digging, I have now discovered that the inspiration for this song was Chris Costner Sizemore, whose struggles with dissociative identity disorder featured in the film The Three Faces of Eve.
Two of her identities were Strawberry Girl and Banana Split Lady, so all becomes a little clearer.
For the avoidance of any doubt, I’d like to state that My Beloved Wife is perfectly sane. Well, as sane as anyone married to me can expect to be.
It starts with some lovely moody bass and cymbal work before the minor key tune kicks in on acoustic guitar, but Steven Severin’s bass remains the real driver of this song.
4. Phil Ochs – Christine Keeler
Actually a song about a famous person called Christine – Ms Keeler, who was a former model and showgirl who along with her friend Mandy Rice-Davies had an affair with then Secretary of State for War John Profumo in 1961 at the height of the Cold War.
The end result was the resignation of Profumo two years later after lying in Parliament, with Harold Macmillan stepping down as Prime Minister later that year due to ill health, possibly exacerbated by the crisis. The Tories went on to lose the General Election in 1964.
This light-hearted Ochs tune was one of many he set down in the offices of folk music magazine Broadside in order for them to print the lyrics, and was never professionally recorded.
“Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, you’re the gals for me. I’ll give you secrets.”
I also have a song of the same name by post-punk band Glaxo Babies who formed in Bristol in 1977, with this song coming out as a single two years later, one of their last tracks recorded with original singer Rob Chapman, who is now a journalist having written for Mojo and Uncut, as well as several music books.
That song starts with some top notch skronking sax and its lyrics cover all the main players from the Profumo affair – “Christine Keeler understands”.
5. The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine
Twee heaven. This has the honour of being the first ever release on the saddest (in a good way) of all indie labels, Sarah Records, and is archetypal Sarah in its indie pop jangle sound and words of unrequited love:
“Pristine Christine, will we ever be? Oh no no no no.”
They were from the hard rock hotbed that is West Bromwich (birthplace of Robert Plant, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and most of Judas Priest), never bringing out an album in their short time as an active band.
6. The Flying Burrito Brothers – Christine’s Tune (Devil In Disguise)
Not a complimentary song about a Christine as you can tell from the title and lyrics such as “now a woman like that all she does is hate you”.
It’s the opening cut on their 1969 debut album The Gilded Palace Of Sin, one of the most important (and best) country rock records. It features some great steel guitar by ‘Sneaky’ Pete Kleinow.
7. Martha – Christine
The most recent song in this list, from one of my favourite albums of last year, Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart. This contains the oddly romantic couplet:
“That’s when you knew, when you felt certain it was love, he held your hair while you were throwing up.”
Not something I think I have ever had to do for My Beloved Wife.
And so ends the songs of Christine.
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Here are all these Christine songs on Spotify: