As I have said in the past, there are few Simple Minds songs that I can’t really warm to. When I tried to put it in mathematical terms from the number of songs I overtly avoid and skip and just can’t listen to as opposed to the rest of the SM catalogue, it was about a 7% to 93% ratio. So, you know…7% of over 300 songs means there are only about 20 songs in their whole catalogue I am like that with. I’d say that is a pretty healthy ratio and not in any way disrespectful or conversely overtly sycophantic.
I don’t really talk about these songs much. I did recently mention the repelling reaction I have to the LITCOL version of Promised You A Miracle. I can listen to (and adore!) the original 1982 New Gold Dream version of it (and its various remixes) until the cows come home. Also plethora of other live versions. A favourite live version is on 5×5 Live – hearing Jim break out into a giggle within the first verse always brings a smile to my face. But the 1987 live version? No can do. It really is a VERY strong aversion and I refuse to listen to it.
But this post isn’t about that particular Minds song. It is about me waking up with the TRUE meaning of an earworm. An annoying song that you can’t shake, that constantly plays in your head. Of course, an earwarm is great if it is a song you love. “All hail to the earwarm!”, we think when that happens. But when the opposite happens one tends to think, “Brain, why must you treat me this way?! This is torture. Please stop!”
This morning I woke up with an earworm. What, for me, is a bad earworm. To begin with, I have quite a love/hate relationship with the album Cry. I love certain songs on it. One of my absolute favourite songs in the entire Simple Minds catalogue – Spaceface – is on it. And for many fans, and I guess even to Jim himself (and perhaps Charlie also), the album marks a kind of “renaissance” of the band. So, for that alone I give it due reverence. Do I listen to it? Erm…not as a whole album, no. Not from start to finish. Certain songs sit uncomfortably for me. I’m not sure why.
An example of this is New Sunshine Morning. I see those that love it get an uplifting buzz from it. My friend, Yvonne, adores it. I think she actually likes the acoustic version, New Sunrise, even more again. She couldn’t make it to the Walk Between Worlds signing in Glasgow in 2018 so I asked her would she like me to try and get something signed by Jim and Charlie. Her choice was the New Sunshine Morning single. That’s what the song means to her. And I guess for quite a few others that like it.
I am not saying I hate it! I don’t dislike it. I just wish I felt the uplifting aspect of it that those that like it seem to. All I hear is a lament. It sounds sad to me. And painful. And some of the lyrics unsettle me. I actually find it hard to listen to. The music definitely sounds uplifting and positive, but the lyrics jar with that. I don’t know. Music and its effects, like all things in art, is subjective.
But, enough of examples. Let’s get to the crux of the matter.
Last night I went straight into sleep mode. Settled down without listening to any podcasts or music. My iPod Touch stayed stowed away in my top bedside drawer. I slept wonderfully soundly but awoke with a quite unexpected earworm. A Simple Minds earworm. That in itself is not unusual, but the choice of song certainly was. It was a track off the Cry album. Not only that, it is the track I like least on said album. I took an almost instant aversion to this song, and I’ll try and elaborate as to why.
One: it just doesn’t sound like them! There has always been a signature sound to Simple Minds – be it Mick’s keys, or Charlie’s guitar, Derek’s bass, or Mel’s drumming. Jim’s voice! There’s always been a pretty noticeable marker. Perhaps not VERY early on when they were finding their feet and their own signature sound…but even within that. Even when they were finding their feet, there was something in their sound that marked them out. This song gives them NO identity.
Two: It’s 2002 (perhaps maybe 2001 as the song is being recorded?) but it sounds like a 1990s throwback! I mean, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that other than – the 90s have barely ended and it isn’t time for a nostalgia-tripped throwback! As a result of it sounding like that, it just makes them sound like every other band in the 90s – but it’s noughties!
Three: Jim’s vocal. On this song it really, REALLY grates on me. It’s just…I dunno…it’s not usually the way he would sing.
Four: The lyrics. You know…I had to look them up because Jim’s vocal actually doesn’t make some of them clear. And then I see it’s one of lil’ bro’s songs! Having read them, I can’t say I am warming to them any more. And I do really like other compositions of Mark’s. I love Happy Is The Man and Angel Underneath My Skin was a fab addition to the WBW deluxe edition.
And while I was pleading with my head to “switch that bloody thing off!!” this morning. Lol. In an exercise in “embracing the suck”, may I present to you…