Way, way back, when Malcolm’s Home and Away Services were blogspotted, he found himself pre-occupied with the multiplicity of Daves.
That was prompted in part by George Strait’s 2009 album, Twang. Then newly-released it was thoroughly raspberries by Steve Morse, reviewing it for the Boston Globe. Across the Great Divide, Randy Lewis for the LA Times nailed it as:
a pretty nifty summation of what commercial country is, circa 2009.
Note that “commercial”. It is not a compliment, but it makes one wonder what “uncommercial country” must amount. Particularly so when it’s a “big hat”act.
Anyway, Twang includes a song, Arkansas Dave (a folksy old-fashioned C&W morality, credited to Strait’s son):
He rode up on a winter day,
Steam rising off the street, they say.
Said, “You probably know my name:
If you don’t it’s Arkansas Dave.
He talked of fifteen years ago,
And how he got to play hero.
Said he killed a man in Ohio:
First man he killed, first horse he stole.
Marty Robbins did this kind of thing with more style, and more originality, a half century gone.
Johnny Cash could, and did, do it sequentially — starting with Don’t Take Your Guns to Town in 1958. When Strait’s boastful (and totally forgettable — Malcolm wishes he could purge it from his memory) Dave ends up miscalculating the odds, and dead in that same street, we are not prostrate in bestaggerment.
In honour of Diddy Dave Cameron, who hasn’t been having a good few days of late, what other lyrics celebrate the forename of the moment?
His Name is Alive, on the King of Sweet album (not Malcolm’s sort of thing, at all, but if you have one, don’t shout about it: it’s worth the odd bob) did two in a row: Ode on a Dave Asman and A Dave in the Life.
Boomtown Rats achieved something eponymous and a bit better known (Pete Townsend rated it), as the opener for The Long Grass album:
The view from on your knees
Keep going, Dave.
I looked up to the sky, and I saw a figure
It was small with shiny lights;
And out of this, this little blue figure,
With the small shining lights
Stepped a little blue man,
With a little blue figure
And he said to me “Do you believe?”
Some kind of psychological profile is emerging here; and it doesn’t flatter Daves.
On the great Silver Screen (but more at home on off-off-peak sitting-room TV), there was Kevin Kline’s 1993 outing as Dave.
In Malcolm’s view, that was a more than decent movie: light, frothy, with a heart in the proper place. It references two recognisable characters:
- the scheming, creepy, on-the-make Bob Alexander (played by Frank Langella), the inspiration for subsequent melodramatic villains of the Dubya coyer: Karl Rove and Veep Cheney;
- the decent, honourable Vice-President Nance (a cameo for Ben Kingsley). He takes the name from “Cactus Jack”, FDR’s first Vice-President, John Nance Garner, and his unacceptably-progressive (except in the company of such as President Jed Bartlet) ideology from FDR’s second, Henry Agard Wallace. In historical terms, just as well that FDR’s death precipitated his third pick, Harry Truman, who deservedly gets into everyone’s Top Ten of all time, into the job.
The slogan on which Dave was advertised went:
In a country where anybody can become President, anybody just did.
The US of A allows even a self-confessed “mutt, like me” to reach the highest office in the land, but, as far as Malcolm can recall, the only time a real “David” made it into the White House, he was David Dwight Eisenhowe (and he didn’t make too bad a show of it). In the UK, of course, it helps to see a Dave through if he has royal cousinage, is descended from the mistress of a royal princeling, has a wife with connections to the Astors, and some £20 million of inheritance money.
In particular, why was “Golden Balls” always given his full birth name, never abbreviated — or when he was, he became “Becks”?
Even St David of Wales is allowed to be “Davey”, but that’s largely because he is also Dewi Sant. If one is the author of all those psalms, you get your full moniker, and pass it on to all the others. Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim and Daibhidh a Briuis, as the two Kings David of Scotland, are historically dignified without shortening. And if you were sculpted by Bernini, by Donatello, by Michelangelo or by Verrochio, you get the full five-syllables, though one of you spends eternity in the buff.
David, Prince of Wales, got the top job (briefly) and was recycled as “Edward VIII”, before he become “Duke of Windsor”. But he was just one of three Princes of Wales with that forename, along with Dafydd ap Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd. Perhaps we should throw David Lloyd George into that mix.
Musicians seem to tend to Dave rather than David: Brubeck; Davies; Edmunds; Matthews, Swarbrick, Van Ronk. Apart from the economist Davids (Hume and Ricardo) Hume and the playwright Mamet, the most obvious literary David was always elided down to D.H.
Still, most peculiar that the demotic never accepted “Dave” for Beckham..
On the box
Nor should we overlook Freeview channel 12. Here we find the BBC’s marketing vehicle for antique video-tape. It’s Dave, tending to laddishness (and named on the principle that “Everybody knows a man called Dave”), the 1998 fifth reboot of a repeats channel. Stephen Fry and TopGear seem never far away from the schedule.
In recent years Dave has has has spawned a whole litter of siblings, and even got around to the odd original (if dirt cheap) studio shows never knowingly oversold as:
full of complete and utter wits
The home of witty banter
Read those very, very carefully. Any miscue is deliberate.