Dum Dum Alter Dum Dum Single

“Dum Dum Girl”, released August 1984, was the third single from Talk Talk’s mega selling and, probably best known album, “It’s My Life”.  There’s been a lot of debate over the song’s meaning ranging from bullets (dum dum), to gold diggers and dumb (dum) broads – all wrong.  The song is (pretty obviously) about prostitution.

“Another hand upon her hair
Time probably erased
Distaste and so she’s left
Where guilt is out of place”

When accused by one interviewer of being a misery guts writing yet another miserable song, Hollis retorted:

“‘Dum Dum Girl’ isn’t miserable, I just think of it as an anti-prostitution song, that’s what it is. I think the songs have got to be sung with feeling, so they’ve got to be written with feeling. I don’t think I make people feel miserable, I really don’t.  I don’t think it’s about misery…it’s soul, that’s where it all comes from. It’s sad because that’s what soul music is. You look at Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ and ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’, it’s all love, innit? It’s got to be.”

So now you know….he’s writing with feeling to underline the message of the song!  Simple really, nothing too intellectual, just common sense.  If you feel strongly enough to write a song with a specific theme, then in order to convey the message you need to engage emotionally.  Interestingly, to do this Hollis employed vocal stress and phonetics techniques (he actually wrote lyrics phonetically!)

Talk Talk Dym Dum

Amazingly, a lot of people at the time didn’t get that, leading them (and their intentions) to be frequently misunderstood by both music press and, indeed their own record company!  About this Hollis quipped:

.“I don’t even know if it matters any more if people misunderstand us. We don’t really care. This three years since we signed with EMI has been a wising-up process. We’ve met people along the way who’ve actually realized what we’re talking about, so we work with them. Like with Tim Pope and the videos, he’s a good boy, he understands where we’re at. And with the records what matters is that we make what we think is a good record.”

Which leads us beautifully to the video…..

Filmed at a farm in Bedfordshire in June 1984, the video features Hollis performing a live vocal over a pre-recorded backing track, practically unheard of back then, never mind today. (Webb also sings the harmony live!). It was a complicated process made look like simplicity itself through Pope’s gifted ability for on the money understatement, which aligned itself very much with the band’s way of thinking.

TP MH LH Dum Dum

I love this video purely because I think it shows the band in a very natural light.  What is clear ,is that by this time they are very comfortable with Pope’s MO and he in turn gives them free reign to do what they want during the shoot.  It’s a rare sight indeed to see Hollis so relaxed in front of camera, which only underlines the trust which had built up between the pair.  It clearly shows a man very comfortable with his own voice.  More importantly, it shows the relaxed relationship within the band and, the comic sense of humour which some of us have always seen in Hollis, contrary to the media world view of him being the afore-mentioned “misery guts”.

“I love my Aunty June”.

I’ll bid you G’Night and leave you with the words of Mark Hollis……..#nocriesofheresyplease

“It is a shame a lot of people out there don’t actually understand what the music is about. I just don’t think we’ve got time to worry about it any more. Who gives a toss, as Shakespeare once said”

This is the official Tim Pope video for “Dum Dum Girl” – I’ve followed it with the lyrics.  I’ve wrapped up with a brill live version of the song.  (Video 1 – Official Tim Pope – Lyrics – Video 2 – Live)

“Dum Dum Girl” (August 1984)

Dum, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl

Another sigh with no regret
More coins inside her hands
One time to learn respect
Now mercenary she stands

I’m no boy
Stealing pennies from the poor
Break it down
Can’t you see she’s

Dum, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl

Another hand upon her hair
Time probably erased
Distaste and so she’s left
Where guilt is out of place

I’m no boy
Stealing pennies from the poor
Break it down
Can’t you see she’s

Dum, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl

I’m no boy
Stealing pennies from the poor
Break it down
Can’t you see she’s

Dum, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl, the dum dum girl

Songwriters
HOLLIS, MARK DAVID / FRIESE-GREENE, TIMOTHY ALAN

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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