Minds Music Monday – This Earth That You Walk Upon – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

When you consider the tracks on the album that have just gone by – the thumping drum and bass monster of Boys From Brazil and the pre-techno genre Euro dance beat of Love Song – there is a calming and stillness to This Earth. A soft rim shot (that’s what that particular percussive sound is called in the pro world) and slow haunting reverb guitar start the track off before Mick comes in with simple but gorgeous synth melody. It feels as if a magic carpet has arrived to take you on a meditative ride.

Soft little hushed tones from Jim accompany the music before he comes in with a pondering set of questions – “What’s your name? What’s your nation?” There is now – after the rush of the previous two album tracks – a definite “sense of order / sense of speed” – at least a reduction of speed to the more tranquil and more….meditative.

More fragmented lyrics still “shakes his hand / turns away / turns his back and walks away”. Jim seems to have recurring themes in his lyrics. Quite a bit of hand shaking and walking into, out of, or generally around spaces. There’s a lot of walking. I guess it is reflective of how much of a walker (yes, that’s “waLker” lol) he is. Some elements of songwriting, no matter how much you feel are not a reflection of you personally can’t help but be a mirror.

Reading up about it, it was initially an instrumental and was released as an instrumental only version on the B-side of Love Song. Jim added the vocal at the latter stages of the album recording. Probably having walked around Glasgow for days on end listening to the track god knows how many times on his(?) or Brian’s(?) Walkman. Each time I hear it I think of the reply I had from him about listening to music while walking (or jogging as the post he had written had alluded to) around Glasgow. I’ll include it below as it is a piece of “conversation” I cherish. I cherish all the interactions I’ve ever had with Jim and I despair the thought of it being past tense now. “All things must pass”, I guess. I feel as if I have been in mourning twice in recent years. Losing my mum at the end of 2019 and then…well…

I have probably highlighted this bit of conversation several times over already, but here goes…

I used to think that was a ridiculous kind of bravado to claim that. To say “no birdsong could compete”. But he is right. No birdsong can. But the birds aren’t trying to compete with Mick MacNeil’s or Charlie Burchill’s genius. They’re just the males in the species competing with each other for “top bird”. To get the best females. I pretty much think Mick had that part covered as well – without trying. Cheekbones you could cut yourself on.

For me, this song has Charlie Burchill’s best guitar solo. By far. It almost sounds off key. But that makes it stand out. And it’s haunting. Like his guitar is weeping. It is so beautiful. And then to match it to Jim’s lyrics after the solo ends – “screaming edge of light / shines so, shines so hard”. Those lines exactly encapsulate what Charlie has just produced with his guitar.

I had my “heavenly moment” with this song. The Walk Between Worlds tour of 2018 and it starting at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow. We were just a few songs into the show. The songs that you’d expect to get things under way. The ones the early diehards love – I Travel, Celebrate, Love Song… and then…THEN came the B-side to Love Song in lyrical form. As soon as the jangling guitar, the soft percussive beat and synth melody began, I almost fell to my knees in raptures! There was talk of surprises being on the setlist leading up to the tour. Unexpected things that would keep the diehards happy. And of course by this time I was one of those diehards.

I had never expected much from the promise of surprises. I know sometimes that Jim says one thing and means another. I was cynical enough to keep my expectations in check for fear of disappointment. This one floored me. I was ssooo happy! I just wanted to shut myself off from everything else that was happening around me. I closed my eyes and just let the whole thing wash over me. To just let it soak into my skin and try to keep myself in the moment.

I don’t actually recall much of how the song actually sounded on the night. I remember Jim and Catherine sharing vocal duties on it. I remember feeling blissful hearing the music and anticipating Charlie’s solo which was just about note perfect from my vague memory of it. The memory is vague because I suffer from a kind of sensory and emotional “overload”. When things are very special or mean a lot to me, it overwhelms me and plays havoc with my memory recall. I have the worst memory as is – but when it is a special thing, a moment that I REALLY WANT TO REMEMBER – then that is guaranteed to be the thing I remember least – or worse still can’t recall at all. A lot of things I wipe from memory completely. Thankfully in these modern times with Smartphones being rather ubiquitous, there is not much need for me to have to rely on my memory recall – thank god! But it would still be lovely to be able to recall it first-hand from my own memory bank. To feel all the things I felt that night as the song was playing rather than the vagueness of knowing it meant the world to me to hear it being performed and wanting to savour the moment.

I know this is not the most information rich post about this song. There’s never really been much said of it. Never much talk about it. It’s quiet and sparse and glorious. Understated. Simple and beautiful. Mick MacNeil at his very best. Charlie Burchill at his very best also. And Jim Kerr at his most lyrically enigmatic. Quiet and sparse – but also expansive. Cinematic. “Worldwide on the widest screen” – latter lyrics that also sum up the atmosphere of This Earth That You Walk Upon. This whole planet is home to us. This big blue planet that we really should be taking much better care of but never will. Humans by nature are just far too greedy and selfish. Even those who otherwise appear altruistic still have these awful human foibles. We all do. Sadly it is also what makes us human. We don’t seem to be able to learn and change what makes us the worst example of humanity.

But alas, I digress some. For I am sure This Earth That You Walk Upon is just meant to be enjoyed as a reflection of all that is good and joyous about this world. The vastness of it. The nature of it. A soundtrack to the world, of our place in it and of nature.

I’ll offer two versions here. The album version with the lyrics and a version of it from the Walk Between Worlds Tour in 2018.

Minds Music Monday – Past Present – Magic

Thinking about choosing a track for this week’s MMM, it’s really easy to trawl through their extensive back catalogue to the long past. But as the proposed songs to highlight fluttered through my mind…invariably harking back to the long past, I tutted at myself. “Hey, what about the recent past? What about Walk Between Worlds?”

And with a new album ready to appear on the horizon, I was thinking about the crazy, exciting anticipation I was filled with when we first heard little snippets of WBW and were told of its release date. We are just coming to three years since that flush of info.

On September 29th, 2017, Jim posted about being “busy in rehearsals” and there was news of things to come that he was excited about sharing with us. I usually take those kinds of things with a pinch of salt because…well, promises can be broken, or things…circumstances can change so…

I allowed myself a small flutter of excitement, but that was that.

As November started, he started writing posts about certain songs from the Simple Minds back catalogue and how they came to be. It was all slowly ramping up. And then mid November, the major clues of a release of the new album being imminent started to come through. And then, a week before Charlie’s birthday – BAM! Details of Walk Between Worlds was revealed. But even more exciting was the way the tour was revealed. It was a real tease and got the fans in an absolute FRENZY. It was a masterstroke how it was done.

I remember hearing Magic for the first time and I loved it from the get go. It was so uplifting and such a wonderful piece on how the amazing concoction of self-belief, ambition, determination…and with a little dash of luck – amazing things can happen. That it can, indeed, produce MAGIC.

It was panned by many a fan. Some very noticeably. I will say nothing more than that – because that is all the air certain “oxygen suckers” will get from me! But the lyrics are lovely! They DO tell a story. Okay, nobody loves the old Jim Kerr writing style more than me. The “fragments and ambiguities” that he said he liked to deal in, in an interview for Belgian TV in 1983. But I love Jim the storyteller too. And there is a wonderful story to Magic. That young, disillusioned man, kicking about the big city, wondering what his life was going to amount to. And then, with all those ingredients mentioned earlier all coming into play and alignment…adding some hard work as the final ingredient and…there’s your Simple Minds story right there!

I love Magic. I have done from the first listen and I still do. I see that poor disillusioned young man walking down the street on his tod, looking downcast… “As I walk through the city with my wounded pride and everybody is too busy and you’re wondering why, there’s a hole inside. I need a pill not an alibi.” But it all comes good in the end, young Jim! Keep the faith, beautiful man.

The song just has an indelible spirit and heart. And it lifts me every time I hear it. I will never understand why it has its detractors. But, hey. To each their own. If they don’t hear and feel the magic in it then…

Perhaps it *is* the weakest song on WBW? Well, if it is, then it is testament to what a wonderful album Walk Between Worlds is!

I also thought the video was braw.

Memories – I Hold On To Them So Tightly…

I bury myself in the past because it is where all the best days are.

Two things about these photos from Colchester Grandslam 2018 – 1) The first photo of us all lined up for the photo op – my face looks as it does as I am freaking out as to where to put my left hand. I’m absolutely freaking out at the idea that I should place my arm around Jim’s waist. Lol. But even worse if I let my arm hang loose and I accidentally touch his bum or…the front area! Lol. So I decide to very loosely put my arm around his waist. 2) If you look closely at the three photos in which we’re lined up, you’ll see that Jim has a bit of my jacket pinched between his thumb and forefinger. I honestly don’t know why I do but I find that really cute and endearing.

Anyway…I’m always nostalgia tripping.

Old Gold Dream?

I felt rather disheartened by yesterday’s 6 Music “Album Club”. The remit for BBC Radio 6 Music when it started was to be “indie” and “alternative”. It seems to have edged away from that over the years. I mean…it was fabulous that they gave exposure to Walk Between Worlds in 2018. No one was more surprised than me. I really thought it would be Radio 2 that would give it the exposure.

The fact that Simple Minds can straddle getting airplay from both stations is testament to the lasting legacy and style of the music they have produced. GOOD ON THE MINDS!

But the disappointing things about yesterday were – the repetition of the interview. At least 6 Music alluded (or even ELUDED) to it being a repeat…but with a modicum of uncertainty I tuned in anyways but once it got under way, the interview was sounding pretty familiar.

The other was the fact that they – 6 Music – ONCE AGAIN chose to concentrate on New Gold Dream.

Now….DON’T GET ME WRONG! New Gold Dream is EVERYTHING that the lasting reverence and esteem it is held in by all and sundry is worthy of. It is as near to perfection as Simple Minds ever got, aurally. And you all know well enough how I feel about Jim in 1982. The album and him…both near perfection in 1982. He is as aesthetically beautiful as the album work itself. The album is art and Jim right at that point is Michelangelo’s David for me.

Back to that 6 Music remit. “Indie and alternative”. It makes me wonder then WHY…why not highlight EMPIRES AND DANCE? It was its 40th anniversary, FFS! Or…Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – which is absolutely CRYING OUT for a box set reissue, but looks as if it will never get it – to my (and quite a number of others fans) eternal consternation.

It just had me perplexed. New Gold Dream is constantly lauded. Constantly gets the praise. It’s almost as if, sometimes in the eyes of many, that Simple Minds made only one great album and it’s that one thing. For me, it almost falls into the danger zone of Don’t You (Forget About Me). Except it is far more superior to that (sorry for the Don’t You lovers – I once was a lover of it too, many moons ago…and then I became a Simple Minds fan). Simple Minds only known for ONE SONG and ONE ALBUM. It just sucks arse!

And I am ssooo disappointed that there wasn’t more to celebrate and applaud Empires And Dance. On this milestone anniversary year, it REALLY deserved it. I hate how both EAD and Sons/Sister are just deemed creative precursors to NGD. Never really seen as the amazing sonic innovations they both were.

At times I can be left with a kind of desensitised feeling after having listened to NGD – like it just washes over me because it’s kind of “too good”. I can’t explain it right. But…I NEVER have that feeling with Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. It ALWAYS leave me floored, in awe, astounded and like I have been on the most amazing sonic journey. And Empires And Dance just floors me thinking about their age and ambition and how they pulled off such a sound. Drawing on so many influences, but finding their own musical identity.

Anyway, that’s just how I felt about yesterday’s Album Club. Once I heard that the interview was indeed a repeat, I switched the radio off.

Yesterday I wasn’t much in the mood to hear more praise heaped upon NGD.

Sunshine On A Rainy Day

As it was in Colchester two years ago. Considering six weeks before this photo was taken, I was persona non grata and blocked from the SM FB page – I never imaged a photo like this EVER happening! Or that Jim would ever be that warm with me ever again.

Either he’s a fabulous actor and missed his true calling, or … he had genuinely forgiven me and it WAS all water under the bridge.

Now I am not so sure where things stand at all. But I know I miss the gigs and the fun and the travel and all the nerves and jitteriness and … the joy of being right at the front watching the most wonderful band in the world and the most beautiful man in the world. I miss him. I miss properly being in awe of him for the thing he does best…being the frontman that has an audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

I love this band so much. They are, literally, sunshine on a rainy day. My little universe.

Minds Music Monday – Space – Johnson Somerset Mix

I wanted to choose Space today because – I always wish to see Jim in my dreams. I spent the past few years before going to sleep, making that wish… “Please! When I go to sleep PLEASE let me dream about him. If I can’t get to be with him and spend time with him like I’d love to in real life, at least let me have it in my dreams. Please just let me dream of being with him!”

It rarely ever happened. And I honestly don’t know when the last time I dreamed about him was. I gave up asking. He’s as sick of me in my dwam state as he is in real life, it seems.

I don’t think I had ever heard this Johnson Somerest mix of Space before today. He always makes good mixes, some are naturally better than others, but I don’t think there has ever been one I haven’t liked.

Jim – I am trying to give you space, I really am. The last thing I have ever wanted is to bore you rigid. I fear that I have. So I am trying really hard to stop that from happening. But you post things and then…I just want to talk to you! And then I just pray that you’ll respond to me. Interact with me. Throw me a bone by responding to me.

And then I sound all super needy and clingy and I hate myself because I know that kind of stuff is stuff you detest. As I said before – to be enthusiastic is great, but to be OVER-enthusiastic is undesired.

Today is also the anniversary of something else that I don’t really want to think about or have happen ever, ever again. But it doesn’t stop me from living further back in the past. He started his post today with a quote from Kierkegaard …

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward

Soren Kierkegaard

I don’t feel like I live too much forward. I spend too much time in the past. Steeped in what feels like “halcyon days” when the art was good, when I felt like I was going somewhere, when I felt that affinity, though perhaps it was a dwam too?

GAH! I’m so sick of myself! No wonder he’s sick of me too! If I’m not living in the past, I just want to live in dreams…

The Dutch Stuff

I remember this article from around the Walk Between Worlds tour. The photographer – as far as I was concerned – took some really unflattering photos of Jim, but in amongst the more questionable ones was this one. The best of the bunch. I had several goes of tidying it up but I probably didn’t really improve things much. Scanning from newspapers always results in a lot of “artefact”.

I Wish I Was There…

Leeds, 2018. Don’t mean to be maudlin, but…

To hear the “burning slow” lines return to the song during the Grandslam part of the tour – I was sssooo, so happy. They are the most beautiful, romantic lines.

There was “soft rain” falling that night in Leeds too. And after all that had gone on in the month or so prior to that night…I felt back “home”.

It was a gorgeous night. How I wish it was happening again tonight.