July 23, 2024

Songs about Spain

Espana Camisa Blanca, a song celebrating the transition of Spain from dictatorship into democracy, and mourning the violence of both the civil war and the oppression of the fascist dictatorship.

Spain achieved the transition in 1978. But 2 years previous, apparently unperturbed by the prospect of living in a state with extra-judicial fascist murder and baby-snatching, Steve Bent decided he was going to Spain. It was the usual stuff, sick of the clouds and weather. Steve was 24, and he was going to Spain. After all cousin Normal had had a real fine time the year before. He hoped he could learn the language there.

My wife is Spanish, and when she heard the Steve Bent track, she wondered if it might be John Shuttleworth. There is something very Shuttleworthian about this track. I did a bit of research and found that Bent, like Shuttleworth, had previously been an actor on a northern TV soap. Shuttleworth had had brief spells on Coronation Street, Steve Bent was in Crossroads.

Mark E Smith, 15 years later, in 93, and at the age of 34 (not 24), decided that he was going abroad too. In his cover of Steve Bent’s song he points out that like Steve he sold his car and quit his job. He puts in a new twist though. He adds that he thinks its time he saw the world and not Australia. He’s going to Spain. I first heard this track on a live broadcast of The Fall playing Sound City in Sheffield in 93, it was a raucous set with plenty of feedback and white noise.


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