Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Jarvis Atingle

 Yesterday, on one of my increasingly rare forays into the woke world of Radio 4, I caught a bit of Jarvis Cocker's new series, Good Pop Bad Pop, a kind of music-themed memoir. Jarvis is a natural radio man, always worth a listen, so I hung around until the dreaded Woman's Hour took over. What caught my ear was Cocker's description of 'the tingle', which is the physical sensation that something special in music (or other arts, no doubt) triggers in the region of the upper spine and back of the head. This sounded familiar – of course, 'the tingle' was Nabokov's index of true art too. Here's one of his several utterances on the subject: 'A wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. It is there that occurs the telltale tingle even though we must keep a little aloof, a little detached when reading.' (from Lectures on Literature). 
Unfortunately, the particular tingle that Cocker was remembering – the first he recalls – was occasioned by the ludicrous Peter Sarstedt song 'Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?' Jarvis was set atingle by the line 'I can look inside your head', which, after a string of 'na-na-na's, ends the song.  In mitigation it must be stated that this song was released (and stayed at number one for four weeks) in 1969, when young Jarvis was barely six years old. He can be forgiven that early tingle. 


  1. Jarvis Cocker is a splendid fellow. And that song is indeed preposterous. That said, in my youth I fear I may have had a tingle courtesy of one of the 4 tracks on Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes...

  2. Oh dear yes, and me I spent far too long immersed in the more preposterous works of the Incredible String Band. I also remember tingling at Vanilla Fudge's wildly grandiose stylings (remember their You Keep Me Hangin' On?)

  3. Good Lord - some things can’t be unheard. Holland-Dozier-Holland should have sued.