PanAm “Song1”

2003-panam-song-1It’s night time and Paul from Panam shows up late for his shift behind the counter at a petrol station. I feel great tension every time I see him in this video because his hair in this video is how my hair goes on a bad day. I want to give him a good blowdry.

It’s an old-style petrol station (filmed “in Christchurch in the middle of winter at night in a draughty old gas station,” Paul told Songlines Across New Zealand). It’s the kind of place that was primarily an automotive workshop with just a little shop selling a few chocolate bars and chips, secondary to the oil, fanbelts and other essentials. It’s also the kind of petrol station that isn’t really around these days, and indeed it seems that the location in question is now occupied by a budget car rental company.

Business is slow and there’s nothing for Paul to do but slouch around the till. If it were me, I would alphabetise the chips – cheese and onion, chicken, ready salted, salt and vinegar. There.

But relief comes in the form of a customer, an old geezer rolling up in a Mercedes. Paul fills up the car. Petrol is only $1.049 a litre, and the 91 is 99c. Remember that fact, kids. Those were golden days.

The customer tended to, Paul goes back inside and keeps singing “I don’t care anymore”. Even a dwarf customer isn’t enough to break his boredom, so he goes out the back and jams on his keyboard, using headphones.

A shifty looking young man (who I think I recognise from my olden Hamilton act0rizing days) comes in the shop and buys some chewing gum. He’s either wanting to break a big note or he’s casing the joint.

Paul returns to his back-room jamming, and the shifty dude returns and steals several boxes of Cadbury chocolate bars. He runs out and there’s the geezer in the Mercedes waiting. What kind of arrangement is this? Rich older man picks up a young street youth, gets him to steal chocolate bars and they go back to the geezer’s mansion and spend all night eating Pinkys and Crunchies until they crash out in a sugar coma, holding each other as they sleep?

And then the video expects us to happily go back to Paul moping around the petrol station. No, I want to know what the odd-couple crims are up to.

Note: In 2012, PanAm released a revved up new recording of the song.

Best bit: the physical comedy of the thief dumping the haul of choccies in the back seat of the Merc.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… you, me and everyone we know.

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