I’m not sure anyone is today. I feel absolutely shattered.
You see, I went to Edinburgh yesterday to see my second favourite band in the entire universe. It was a long way to go for what was barely a 30 minute set, but it had been so long since I saw them play, I was just happy to be there and see them. Even one song would have done!
And Steve and Andy are always so lovely. Greet me warmly and let me chat with them and make me feel like they are as happy to see me as I am to see them. Anyway, more on that in another post to come.
It was a tiring day anyway. Lots of aimless walking and a longer journey home than anticipated. So today I feel completely deflated and drained.
When my spirits are low, a song like Light Travels is just the antidote to that feeling. The matter-of-fact lyrics are sometimes what is really needed. “Things get better after things get worse.” IE: Buck up kid, it won’t always be this bad!
And before that “hello, hello – is anybody home?” line there is “But there’s no need to worry” – and I have only taken in the true context of the next line! I used to think that line a bit rude, you know? Because people say that to someone who is “zoned out” – distracted and deep in their own thoughts and not really paying attention to what is going on around them. Say, if you’re talking to someone and are expecting a response from them and one isn’t forthcoming, you’d usually say “HELLLLO! Is anyone home? Wakey, wakey!” and wave a hand in front of them to try and coax them out of their perceived reverie.
But I have just realised that what could be meant by it is (because of the line before being “but there’s no need to worry”) – DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID!? DID YOU JUST TAKE THAT IN!?
THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY! So stop.
It’s uplifting because it’s a song reassuring you that you are not alone. We all have our ups and downs and the world still keeps turning. Light just keeps on traveling through the universe.
My favourite lines in the song are “words unravel out of all of us / they arise / they refrain”. I understand why Jim and Charlie wanted this Sean Kelly track – it’s beautiful.
And for the Acoustic album, they turned it into something even more beautiful again. It was a bonus track on the Acoustic vinyl album – both it and Speed Your Love To Me were, for me, (along with the cover of Richard Hawley’s Long Black Train) the standouts of the whole Acoustic album.
If you today, like me, feel the need to be uplifted and reassured…listen to Light Travels and feel yourself somewhat healed.
Normal service for MMM will resume next week, but until then I’d like to share a special gift from my mate Baggers. Kant Kino is one of my favourite, if not my MOST FAVOURITE, Simple Minds instrumental. Only problem is, it’s so short!
“No probs. I’ll sort it!”, said Baggers to me and lo! He sent this (audio link below) to me not long after. A few days before my birthday in 2017 as a gift. He called it the “Tantrum Remix”. Lol
So, in lieu of being prepared for another Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call themed post for this week, I am sharing this lovely extended version of Kant Kino.
I missed the chance to check the building out in 2019. I had it all planned out; going to Germany with Ruth, seeing The Stranglers and making my way to selected spots around Berlin. A pilgrimage that never got to take place.
Released in May, 1981 – while the band are still busily recording the Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call albums, the first of the singles of the album is rushed out.
But as “rush jobs” go, it has been a mainstay in the Simple Minds live set…well, since even BEFORE it was recorded in the studio and released as a single.
Well, so the Dream Giver site says but when I look at setlists from the March tour I see Sweat In Bullet on the setlist and not The American. Also there is a mention on the page about the March ‘81 tour that Careful In Career and Love Song had been written earlier in the year and already getting live airings. Which makes The American an odd choice for a first release single. Why not Sweat In Bullet or Love Song? I guess the desire to give a thirsty public something completely fresh and new won out (though you’d have thought only the small-ish contingent of die hard Minds fans would be the only ones familiar with the new tracks from the March setlist?).
Anyway, I suppose I’m splitting hairs. The point remains that the single is braw (“very good” for the non Scots reading this). And if only Simple Minds would give their still incredibly thirsty fanbase new material like this these days – and this quickly! No such luck. It’s all such a corporatocracy now. Music as “commodity”. No. We release singles as one new song tagged on to a “best of” album. Yet ANOTHER “best of” album. Sorry, but, yeah. I never like to criticise the band much but, one “new” song attached to a “best of” album, and a whole tour based around that?! Well, in retrospect, maybe a pandemic was just what this band needed to get a bomb up its arse and think about just WHAT their fanbase wants or DESERVES.
I’m sure Jim will not be best pleased with what I have written just above. But then again, he probably doesn’t give two shits, which is how things have felt this past year in the Simple Minds fandom, to be honest. YES! He keeps talking about new material and a new album, but then it gets handed over to record company fucking bureaucratic red tape shit. FUCK! JUST GIVE US SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO BEYOND PROMISES! JESUS CHRIST!
Hey ho. I guess the Minds story will come to an end soon enough anyway, so why does it matter?
ANYWAY! The American! Let’s celebrate The American. The rush job of a single that still has the fanbase singing their lungs out to this day. I can’t be begrudging ANOTHER “hits” tour when I have so much love for songs like The American now, can I? It has appeared on many a tour over the years, with short rests during the Street Fighting Years and Real Life tours and just the odd absence from there.
There is a demo version of the song that got a release on the 2004 mega compilation, Silver Box. It’s all pretty much there. The final studio release was refined and honed.
I find the 12” extended version of the song much better than the album version. The album version is great too, just…a bit short. Still, I guess everything that appeared on Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was pushing for space. So much so that the LEAD single from the sessions doesn’t even get put on the lead album but on its twinned “sister extra”.
The 12” also gets a highlight on the wonderful Themes sets – on Volume 1 of the releases. As well as that, in the late nineties, there is an “Interference Mix” of the song released. It remains a solid favourite of mine of the Simple Minds remixes that have been produced.
The earliest live appearance I can find on a bootleg is at the Futurama 3 gig at Bingley Hall in Stafford on Sept. 6th, 1981. The infamous one where Jim is “as crook as Rookwood”, as we say in Oz (ie: feeling very unwell). It’s audible, to the point where it sounds to me that Jim sings “here comes the meds” during the second run of the “chorus”. There is a lot of dead air where he normally would be singing. And Derek gives the sign off at the end of the song for the end of the gig. I guess Jim is off puking again by this point?
Another favourite involves “early days” footage of the band on French TV performing it live. Jim is partly clothed in my favourite combo, in his riding boots and baggy white troosers. (And in a fairly figure-hugging white t-shirt as well – his chest looks frigging awesome! OMG!) He also does some wrapping of the mic cord around his elbow and he just makes shapes and is just the sexiest thing alive! Beautiful! He’s beautiful.
But I digress!
The most “recent” (some recent to my ears anyway) versions I have really enjoyed have been the live acoustic version (not the studio version on the Acoustic album – that never really sat well with me for some reason) but also the version I heard from the Good News From The Next World tour. It was a return of the song on the setlist after an absence of some eight years. I heard a version of it from the gig at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 10th September, 1995. Jim actually sings all the BV lines! The “across a curved earth / Nassau club days / in collective fame / the eventful workouts” lines. I nearly lost my shit hearing it for the first time. It was late at night but inwardly I was shouting, “HE’S DOING THE LINES! HE’S DOING THE LINES!” Lol. I was ssooo happy!
In light of what I said earlier in this post, The American is one song I would be happy to keep on the setlist. It is a firm favourite of mine at gigs and one I am guaranteed to dance and sing along to. But I would be absolutely OVER THE MOON if more tracks from Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call were performed. The only tracks with almost concrete affirmation to stay on the setlist are, The American, Love Song and Theme For Great Cities. The only other track I’ve had the privilege of hearing performed live in front of me from the albums is This Earth That You Walk Upon. I’d love to hear Sweat In Bullet or Sons And Fascination itself, or Seeing Out The Angel or In Trance As Mission. Anything really.
Speaking of “rush jobs” – the cover! Malcolm Garrett was given just 48 hours to come up with something for the cover of the single – his first design for Simple Minds. His time at the cover design helm for the band saw a number of iconic covers produced, the pinnacle of these, for many, being New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). But the start of the working relationship with Assorted iMaGes the band had was through the first work of The American. The cover holds personal significance for me, given how Malcolm collected the images together and how I make my own art.
Overall, the 12” version as well as many live versions are my favourites of The American, so for this week’s Minds Music Monday, let’s say happy (almost!) 40th anniversary to the AMERI-AMERI-AMERI-AMEREE-AMERICAAAN!
I have tentatively started to work on revising my Top 50 list of SM songs. Probably a good thing to do before finishing my “Why I love…” posts that I started over 5 years ago. Where the fork has that time gone? Us humans have the most bizarre relationship with time, don’t you think? On one hand, a certain passage of time feels so much longer than it has been – on the other, it can disappear within the blink of an eye.
I can’t believe it has been 5 years since I was last spending time with mum.
Back to last night. There was a song I had in my memory. A song that I had asked Jim about and he (it already becoming a rarer thing by that point) replied to me about it. And I wanted to find that bit of “conversation” with him. Me in that eternal need to feel like…I could talk to him…that it meant something – not just to me, but to him too. Albeit just as the singer and songwriter of the band I fervently follow most passionately to all others. It just being that and nothing more to him.
But I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the song was called! And I knew I had written about it on my blog. Well, I would assumed I had – because I’d have been over the moon that he replied to me. I would have made something of it! But without remembering the song’s name, how the heck was I going to find it?
I had other songs in me head – Take Me To The Angels and Sweet Things. I listened to Take Me To The Angels – not entirely convinced it was that. It lead nowhere on a search of my blog. Had it been that, it would have unearthed my “tete-a-tete” with Jim about it. Nada. The song is great though.
Sweet Things I was even less convinced about as I know before listening to it, it became the track Destiny on the Life In A Day album. And I knew the conversation I had with Jim was about a song that never made it on Life In A Day – it was my premise for asking him about it – why hadn’t this song made the cut? What happened to it?
Although I was doubtful, I listened to Sweet Things too. Again, great. Although Jim’s lyrics are hard to decipher on a rather worn out old bootleg, obviously the song’s melody and tune is there – its musical structure in tact (albeit with a MUCH longer intro than what Destiny ended up with on the album). I guess Jim just wore his heart on his sleeve a bit more then? That he was fine with completely rewriting songs . The songs he’s rewritten? They obviously all work…but I canne help feel something gets lost along the way. Even if just the matter-of-fact notion that the previous words are discarded.
I am still no closer at this point. My search took me to Flickr as well, and my old catalogue of things. Art that I saved. Endless screengrabs of snippets of things that happened on SMO (what was THEN Simple Minds Official – no need for officialdom now, it seems). Bits of interactions with Jim. I quickly combed through it but I really couldn’t see anything that was relevant. Perhaps I hadn’t saved it? Hmmm. That would be odd!
So…how the heck was a going to find this thing?!
A theme became apparent to me from the other tracks I had just listened to. Both Sweet Things and Take Me To The Angels came from live recordings. I was working a bit blind last night (in bed, glasses off) so in my mind they had both come from the same gig at the Mars Bar. It is only looking again this morning that I see that Sweet Things came from a recording at Grangemouth at the end of 1978.
But I had a tentative thread in my mind – Simple Minds at the Mars Bar in 1978. That search on YouTube finally came up trumps!
Caught (Out) In A Dream! That’s the one! I listened to it again last night. It meanders a bit. It’s a bit drawn out. But…it’s band history. It still has its own bit of importance. If nobody else wants to champion discarded songs – esp. Jim (I have only just in these past few minutes read over his reply to me), then I will! Even if just for band history sake.
I’m sure there are a few songs that never even got recorded that are truly lost for good. That makes me feel sad. It’s kind of tragic. Jim may not see it this way…but everything Simple Minds has made and produced…it all has its special kind of magic. And, well, it might not all be magical to me…but I appreciate that certain things that don’t mean much to me can mean a heck of a lot to others. I’m sure he’d scoff at the notion but just…what if Caught (Out) In A Dream (I always add the “out” in brackets because I am sure he sings “caught out in a dream” which would then make more sense it was titled that way rather than dropping the word “out” in the song’s title?) was the song that cemented a person’s early fandom? Who knows? Yes, perhaps the band didn’t miss it but…you guys knew all the songs! Duh!
Anyway…I awoke this morning dreaming of a TARDIS and of the Mars Bar – a just turned 19 year old Jim in that David Bowie shirt he is wearing when Laurie Evans takes photos of the band outside – what I believe *is* the Mars Bar in 1978. Oh, he just looks glorious even then. And I hear the words from John Grant’s song…
“I wanna go to Marz (Mars Bar)
Where green rivers flow
And your sweet sixteen
Is waiting for you after the show
I wanna go to Marz
You’ll meet the gold dust twins tonight
You’ll get your heart’s desire
I will meet you under the lights”
I can never help but think of Jim with those lines. And me wishing I could time travel, and be that “sweet sixteen” waiting for him after the show. That he would meet me “under the lights”.
Dreaming of a life never lived….
P.S. It was so much further back in time than I had anticipated. Nearly three years ago was his reply to me! And I hold on to them so tightly…it felt to me like it was maybe a year ago, two years at most. Oh…I hold on to every little morsel SSSOOO tightly. I miss this SSSOOOOOO much!
As that…”embrace”. I genuinely never wanted it to end! I’m ssooo glad this photo exists because I never wanted this moment to end…and at least with the magic of photography, in a sense that moment WILL last forever. I’ll never forget the feeling of it, ever.
And…it feels like it was a time in which he liked me.
Today, looking back at these photos and memories – seeing a bit of FB Live filming I did from the seafront – I really, REALLY regret letting Jim walk by as he passed me on the promenade. HE BLOODY WAVED AT ME! I’m such a fucking idiot! Lol. I don’t know what he thought afterwards. Lol. Maybe he was walking along thinking “I thought this chick was into me? She cannae be that much.” Lol
Something of the type must have crossed his mind as, later, just a few moments before this photo was taken when Adrian (the photobomber) had asked if he could have a photo with Jim, Jim replied, “Sure. She (looking at me) doesn’t want one.” Sadly I remember my rather pathetic “I do!” reply. Lol. I still wish I had said “And a photo! BOOM BOOM!” I mean, shit, he even set the innuendo up for me and I didn’t even bite! Lol.
Too awestruck. Dumbstruck.
Dumb fuck! Lol
Anyway…Bridlington 2017 will remain forever special.
Tonight, one year ago…yet ANOTHER dream was fulfilled. I never thought it possible! Surely ONE dream in a week being fulfilled is enough? Actually…the previous two weeks had been just…beyond anything I EVER imagined.
Meeting David Tennant. Having a photo with him and my ticket stub signed by him.
Taking my first trip to Glasgow…for a Minds gig (my second trip to Glasgow in total).
Meeting Jim for the first time in Liverpool.
Meeting him AGAIN in Bridlington. Having Catherine dedicate Rivers Of Ice to me! Posing for photos with Jim. Him putting his arm around me! Just…I could have ALREADY died happy!
And then, at Bristol…this!
Another dream come true. To have him say my name!
I just wanted to hear him say it to me! I NEVER expected him to say it in a room full of people! And then I am put on the backfoot…my head is spinning…he just said my name and now I am expected to respond to a question! The pedant in me is thinking, “This is an important question, get it right!” And the other part of me is saying, “How would I know? I have NO bloody idea! I left school when I was 14! You are ssooo asking the wrong person here! But…I love you!”
I can’t tell you how many times I have played it. Not…EVERY day…and not very often now. But today I did. A very special anniversary.
One year on, and Jim…thank you. For ever…pandering to such a silly, pathetic, sad excuse of a fangirl. It means everything. It always will.
There surely must be some kind of data anomaly because I really would have expected to see Wonderful In Young Life and This Earth That You Walk Upon in the top tracks…as well as Spirited Away being in the Top 100 playlist…but, hey, there you go.