Ice Cream Man
by Blur

Album: The Magic Whip (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • Blur guitarist Graham Coxon pinched the original musical idea for this song from vocalist Damon Albarn's hard drive before developing it with producer Stephen Street. "Damon's got all sorts of crazy things he's done on Garageband," Coxon explained to NME, "and quite a bit of the album was done by building songs around those ideas and glueing them together with bits of the jam sessions we did in Hong Kong. So that song started as this little sequence, then Stephen and I chopped up some improvised vocals and made a chorus out of them."

    Coxon couldn't resist running with the ice cream theme, echoed in The Magic Whip's artwork. "The bass solo, is supposed to be a spin on the Mr Softy Tune that the ice cream van played when I was a kid," he said, "it's not exactly the same, but there's a definite similarities."

    The lyrics are quite a bleak, but at the same time, sinister. Coxon commented: "The song that sounds jolly enough on the outside, but there are some dark undertones there."
  • The album's title came to Damon Albarn during travels in China and Iceland. He explained to The Sun: "The record had a working title Made In Hong Kong, but the more I got into completing the lyrics. I thought it was a bit boring. I was in Iceland and they had amazing New Year fireworks displays – the fireworks was shipped from China.

    There was one called the Magic Whip because of the sound it makes. I also thought it related to a song called Ice Cream Man.

    A whip is also a controlling metaphor. It's also a traditional folklore idea and relates to state control in China."
  • Other artists that have recorded songs about the frozen sweet food include Van Halen who also sung about an "Ice Cream Man," Glasvegas an "Ice Cream Van," Sean Kingston an "Ice Cream Girl" and Durrough an "Ice Cream Paint Job."
  • The Magic Whip debuted at #24 on the US album chart – it was the first time that Blur had reached the Top 50 on the listing.
  • Damon Albarn was 21 years old when he saw the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 on television.

    Here comes the ice cream man
    Parked to the end of the road
    With a swish of his magic whip
    All the people in the party froze
    I was only twenty-one
    When I watched it on TV
    I was racing in my heart back then


    Albarn explained to Billboard magazine: "The sinister ice cream man with his white gloves. I set him in context of the protest. He's a policeman, and the whip is the state control. But the ice cream man is really sinister."

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