(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "That's Entertainment"
Artist: The Jam
Release Date: February,1981
From the Album: Sound Affects (1980)
Quick Take: Like Pete Townsend and Ray Davies -- who Townsend has claimed is Britain's true poet laureate -- Paul Weller is a master of the British vernacular. Written for his band the Jam in 1981, "That's Entertainment" offers a vivid slice of life of early-'80s England. The first rule of any high school creative writing class is "show, don't tell." On this lyrically driven song, Paul Weller successfully strings together a wide range of specific and concrete images to form the single idea -- driven home in the chorus -- that entertainment is like art: You know it when you see it. Weller sings a melancholy melody over a wistful backing of rhythmically strummed acoustic guitars, prominent bass guitar, reverberating "la-las," and shakers. "That's Entertainment" was reportedly written by Weller in ten minutes after he came back from a pub on vacation. While many images Weller describes are universal, some are quintessentially British and served to expose many an American youth to English lingo like "breathing in petrol," "pissing down with rain," and "not eating your tea/A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls." His lyrics run from the street poet "Reading graffiti about slashed-seat affairs" to the Romance poet "Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude." Though it was not their highest-charting song (number 21 in the U.K.), "That's Entertainment" is one of the Jam's best-known and has been covered by Morrissey, among others. All the images link up to form a chain that celebrates a joie de vivre, as if the singer has just regained sight, or is awakening, seeing the world like he has never before seen it.