Minds Music Monday – 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

You can’t escape it. The thing that hits you when your first hear this song is Charlie’s pedal affected riff that makes it sound for all the world like a cow has entered the recording studio to add a repetitive “mooooo” to the music. It’s a bit of an “in joke” in amongst the Simple Minds fanbase, but we love it all the same!
Oh, and…the backbeat. The “holy backbeat”. The drumming is awesome!

There isn’t a lot of information on the song on Dream Giver, which means it remains one of Simple Minds’ most elusive songs. I mean…what the heck is it about actually? The lyrics are Jim at his most ambiguous.

“He wants the world screams everything” – men are petulant and demanding?
“She’s a country feel for life” – women are mysterious and a frontier to be explored and possibly tamed?
“Follows in love, love brings the fall” – it’ll only end in tears? Love makes fools of us all?

I guess this is a prime example of what I was talking about in last week’s MMM about songs not really having to be about anything at all.

I have long talked about two lines in the song being the most either enigmatic, or the most poignant.

The first of the two is the line, “first tear forms in the right eye / this is the eye that’s crying first” – it is SUCH an ambiguous, perplexing line. It’s always induced a head scratch and a pondering in me. I have never been conscious of my tears falling at different points from different eyes. I find it such a strange and curious notion.

When I was reading the Alasdair Gray novel, Lanark, last year, I happened upon a passage of the book which read as follows…

“I must be a very cold selfish kind of person. If Mum died I honestly don’t think I’d feel much about it. I can’t think of anyone, Dad, Ruth, Robert Coulter, whose death would much upset or change me. Yet when reading a poem by Poe last week, Thou wast that all to me, love, for which my soul did pine, etc., I felt a very poignant strong sense of loss and wept six tears, four with the left eye, two with the right. Mum isn’t going to die of course but this coldness of mine is a bit alarming.”

Gray would have probably written those words in the late nineteen seventies, if not earlier. He had been writing the novel since he was 20 years old. Lanark was first published in February, 1981. Had Jim actually read a copy upon release? I know he likes to devour his books and seemingly during that early period, Charlie was an even more voracious reader than Jim. Did those words in the book spark something within Jim and result in that line in the song?

If you remember from last week and the excerpts from interviews I shared when posting about In Trance As Mission, Jim said that inspiration came from all kinds of places.

“More and more ‘image’ is important for bands now,” Kerr enthuses, “as opposed to the sound of jumping up and down. You can be inspired by various actors, playwrights, books, documentaries and magazines – the whole thing. It’s just opened up and inspiration now is coming from everywhere, as opposed to what was rock standards.” (Jim talking with Ian Cranna for New Sounds New Styles magazine printed in the December 1981 issue.)

The other line is one I find quite downcast and melancholy from Jim, on the surface, but it ends up shining and giving hope like many of the lines he has written does.
“When the other side of midnight calls / remind me I’m glad to be here.”

I can interpret it either one of two ways, dependent upon my mood. The melancholic way – “another day is gone and I need a reminder that I am here and life is meant to be enjoyed”. Or the uplifting way “after midnight, it’s a new day. Give me that kick that it’s great to be alive”. There’s an element of doubt in it, “REMIND me I’m glad to be here”. If you are to derive true positivity from it, you shouldn’t need a REMINDER of being “glad to be here”, should you? But then I guess it begs the question, what is “here”? Here in this moment? Here on earth? Here, existing? Here, with you?

Yes, I do over-analyse as you can see. But it’s about learning. Getting to the heart and meaning of the song – if there is indeed meant to be one.

There is also a bone of contention I have with some of the words printed for the lyrics. I am sure that during the second verse that he doesn’t merely repeat the same line over again but splits it up accordingly “breath is in, breath is out / I’m not saying anything, I’ve said too much – breath is in, breath is out / I’m not seeing anything, I’ve seen too much.” That’s certainly how I hear it on the studio version anyway.

Now let’s talk about sparsity. I love the space that Jim’s obfuscatory lyrics give to the music of the songs. But also, especially for this song, the words almost act as another instrument. His voice and his words. He has said numerous times that he’s not a musician – because he doesn’t play an instrument. But you use your voice, Jim! THAT is your instrument and back in the early days of Simple Minds more so, and particularly during this period, coinciding with your words, you really DID use it that way. The nuances, the way you used your voice to manipulate the delivery of words. Your accent coming through some, the protracted delivery of others. All of that is using your voice as an instrument. Okay, it’s not opera. You’re no Pavarotti. But for me, 70 Cities is a prime example of your voice needing to be there. I love the song so much but I don’t listen to the instrumental version of Sound In 70 Cities because….it feels like nothing without your voice and words in it. Something is lost on Sound In 70 Cities without Jim there. I don’t think it was ever meant to be heard just as an instrumental anyway. It’s a “filler” for the Sister Feelings Call album. Rather crazy that at the end of so much creativity during those sessions that the release of two albums means the second ends up with not enough time filled on it!

Speaking of sparsity…
It has hardly appeared on the setlist through the years. It was there for a time on the final leg of the Sons And Fascination tour as well as the early leg of the New Gold Dream tour of 1982, but after that, not a zip. Not until 30 years elapses and they’re on the 5×5 Live tour. It’s a mainstay for the sets on that tour, with just the odd omission here and there when the setlist is reduced for festival slots and suchlike. But then nothing again since 2012.

It is an absolute marathon of a song to perform live vocally though. You have the ability to overdub and merge vocal parts in the studio so the way the vocal parts are layered in the studio is incredibly hard for Jim to replicate live. Live versions required vocal backing harmonies from other band members (namely Forbes and MacNeil in the early runs, then Grimes and Gillespie latterly, I am guessing) to not make it such a vocal slog for Jim. Even with that help, it’s a rather tricky affair.

Getting into the bootlegs as I have done recently I was in raptures hearing live versions of 70 Cities from the 1982 gigs. Firstly from Tiffany’s in Glasgow on July 14th (performed TWICE in one night – the second being even more lively than the first, which you wouldn’t expect at a gig – as a result the second is favoured by me over the first), then at the Hacienda in Manchester a few days later. There is also one from when they played Coasters in Edinburgh in September ‘82 available to hear on YT, and finally one from Toronto in November of ‘82 – which is probably my favourite along with the second of the two performances at Tiffany’s.

Of the modern versions, there’s a cracking one from Cologne in 2012. And I can’t talk of the modern day ones without mentioning the version on the 5×5 Live album – Jim audibly expressing his love for his home away from home, Sicily, rolling off a bunch of town names in his most poetic of “Glasgow Italiano” accents. It’s hard not to smile listening to it, swept up in the sheer joy in his voice. As much as I enjoy that version, Cologne wins out because there is great video footage that accompanies it and Jim is AS HOT AS FUCKING FUCK on that tour. Jesus! I’ll regret not being this kind of SM fan at that point every day of my life. The memories other fans have. And the stories they have of meeting him and him just…going for a drink with them or just…hanging around for a bit. Not just rushing off. It sounded amazing. IN MY DREAMS!

Of course I am amazed and happy with all that I have experienced – but I’ll always dream of more. I’ll always want more! I can’t help it.

You’ll find links to all the versions mentioned below – with my two favourites viewable within the post.

Gallus in Glasgow, July 1982 (Vers. One at 53sec, Vers. Two at 1:25:10) – https://youtu.be/i0Brp4ucqik
Heady Hacienda (not the best sound), July 1982 – https://youtu.be/7E74uyEbfzY
Elegant in Edinburgh, Sept 1982 (Marked start point in description box) – https://youtu.be/CaZxk4Uf0sY
Sentimentally Sunny in Sicily 2012 – https://youtu.be/hGVwhMcR4m0

Knackered Distraction

Felt very drained today. The nerves from conducting last night’s interview got the better of me and I woke up in the middle of the night with it all still swilling around in my head. Excited that it seemed to go okay and excited to share it on the blog, but still with niggles about how I conducted it, how I conducted myself, how articulate (or otherwise) I was. Did I laugh my stupid nervous laugh too much, did I ask good enough questions and/or thought-provoking enough questions, etc, etc.

I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours and woke up feeling extremely drained and tired.

I walked into the city this afternoon to the West End and the Botanic Gardens and met up with Michelle. As drained as I was, I walked 10km and did nearly 15,000 steps. I couldn’t face walking all the way back home, so we caught the subway back from Hillhead to St Enoch and I got the train from Queen Street back to Ashfield.

I haven’t taken any public transport in months, but I was just too fucked to do that walk back home. I need to get myself in better condition!

Tonight I have just been reclining on my bed, exhausted.

I did some banner art. I do love this line so much.

Anyway, soon lights out for me. Night night.

When The Other Side Of Midnight Calls, Remind Me It’s … Minds Music Monday

And seeing as it IS now long after the “other side of midnight” and there isn’t much need to remind me “I’m glad to be here” or that it’s Minds Music Monday then…

Let us hark back to BEFORE midnight, when it was still Valentine’s Day. Jim mentioned in his post yesterday a few Simple Minds tracks that could be chosen for Valentine’s Day – 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall being one of them.

Firstly, I have ALWAYS loved that title. It’s so long winded. But what the hell does it even mean, or allude to? Secondly, who doesn’t love a guitar riff with an effect on it that makes it sound like a mooing coo*? (*cow) Last but not least, it contains – already quite overtly alluded to already! – one of my most favourite lines Jim has ever written – “when the other side of midnight calls, remind me I’m glad to be here”.

I have always been wonderfully puzzled by the song. It’s glorious in its rather enigmatic nature. And it makes it wonderful. I have loved hearing it being performed live in the recent bootlegs shared. Performed TWICE in one night in Tiffany’s in the summer of 1982! Geez.

But this version below is more refined than in the summer and Jim just sounds superb on this. And, it may be a day late and I *MAY* sound like a fool but, fuck I love you, Kerr! ❤️

Happy MMM, and belated Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr Beautiful 😊❤️

Let’s Rock!

A wonderful friend of mine in Oz – Wendy – has done these amazing rock paintings for me.

When she showed me the progress of the New Gold Dream themed one a few days back, I cried my eyes out. I knew she was working on a silhouette of Jim but I wasn’t expecting that amazing NGD cover background on the rock. I was overwhelmed.

Today she shared photos of both completed rocks with me and I absolutely adore them both.

They will take several weeks to get to me all the way from sunny Queensland, but they will find the most loving home here when they arrive in not-quite-so-sunny Glasgow.

First Tear Forms In The Right Eye…

I posted this on the Simple Minds Facebook page, but thought I’d also put it here in case it is deemed too “off topic” and gets deleted.

Such a weird concept this thing about tears and the way the fall from the eyes. Maybe it’s a fascination for Scottish men?

Anyways, here’s what I had posted on SM FB (with the pic attached)….

t’s a curious thing. I am reading Lanark and this is the second time Alasdair Gray has used language like this. A reference to tears and them falling from either eye. The first time my mind instantly thought “first tear forms in the right eye, this is the eye that’s crying first”. And just now again reading this passage. I started to wonder who influenced whom, or if it some uniquely Scottish thing to think of how tears form and whether they only form from either one of the eyes, etc.
Of course both things (Lanark and 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall) are released in 1981 but having watched a documentary on Gray a few nights back, he had been writing Lanark from the 1950s so I’ll assume his words came first.
Anyway, I found it a curious thing. Just wanted to share.

The 70 Cities Curiosity….

I’ve posted this on SMO…but in case he misses it (as if he’s going to see it here! Pffft!)

***I’m currently playing catch up listening to last night’s Billy Sloan Show on BBC Radio Scotland and he just played 70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall.

And, seeing as I am meeting tight lips and closed (Simple) minds about Sons And Fascination and Semi-Monde, I might as well go out on a limb and see how far I get asking you about my other quizzical line that I just love hearing every time it plays.

“When the other side of midnight calls / remind me I’m glad to be here”. I always find that curiously downbeat for you, Jim. Because it’s not saying “I’m glad to be here” but “REMIND ME I’m glad to be here”. That’s a very different connotation. That portrays…I dunno…heaven forbid should I say it? … Cynicism!?

It always conjures up a post-gig scene for me. A quiet after show soiree and you not being particularly interested in being there.

I mean…most of the lyrics in the song are pretty left field anyway (I mean…who cries from the right eye first?…I’m not taking a shot, I adore your lyrics. I think you know that by now…if you don’t then…well…erm…🥴🥴🥴) but that line has always stuck out in particular for some reason for me.

Dunno why.

Anyway…just thinking out loud. As you were, Mr Kerr.***

(It’s a REALLY old one, that lyric piece. Made at mum’s. That’s her clock.)

Why I Love…70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall

Firstly that little playful synth at the beginning. Almost like a little jingle. Then, just such GRINDING ax work from Charlie. One long grinding chord. I always think it sounds like an angry cow mooing loudly. Lol. I know! And each time it grinds, I join in “MOOOOOOO!!”. And after each guitar grind, a thwacking drum beat.

Jim comes in, with what’s probably up there with HATH as one of his more….ambiguous set of lyrics. Really abstract lines like “first tear forms in the right eye / this is the eye that’s crying first”. I mean, say whaaa…? Jim? But this is why I love him as a songwriter!

Sometimes he can seem a bit…”formulaic” now. And I don’t mean that to sound in any way disrespectful. He’s honed his craft. But he tends to like to stick with the tried and tested formula these days of verse and chorus. And he still delivers magic under that formula (Spirited Away, Blindfolded, Kill or Cure, Concrete And Cherry Blossom are just some examples)…but he delivers SSOO well in abstraction. From Simple Minds most recent album offering came Liaison and Bittersweet. These two songs were particular highlights for a lot of fans from 2014’s Big Music release. And many were also up in arms that these two tracks were only available as part of the Big Music deluxe edition.

Liaison and Bittersweet (in particular) seemed to go back to that ambiguous formula. If it was INDEED a formula. Not really so much lyrically…they have structure lyrically (and they are both SEXY AF and Jim is promising MORE sexy songs on the new one! One song that’s rumoured to be on the new album is called A Silent Kiss) but they don’t follow the strict verse/chorus structure, which I like!

But getting back to 70 Cities. This seems a real Charlie and Jim piece to me. Charlie is ALL OVER THIS with all different kinds of amazing guitar pieces. Those grinding cow like moos, soaring wails, jangly riffs during the “going somewhere / getting some place / going somewhere” lines. I love the way Jim’s accent comes out in those lines! Esp. on those “going somewhere” lines 🙂 “gue-ing” 🙂 

It’s oviously a song about seaching and exploring. He still has that explorer thing going on with his lyrics then. Oh, but the ambiguity is GREAT. 

Best line in the song? “When the other side of midnight calls / remind me I’m glad to be here”. That’s quite a dour line for our boy by then. But I love it! I’m sure most would take that as a depressing line. It sounds low, forlorn. But to me it has an optomism. 

But there are intangible elements to it to me. Getting down to brass tacks, what *is* the song about? “Follows in love / love brings the fall” – the trials and tribulations of human love? Love of exploration and searching? “He wants the world / screams everything. She’s a country / feel for life.” I’m never really sure.

And the fade out! Those shouts from Jim. Grrr!

(And don’t get me started on the song to follow!)

In summery. Guitar in bucket loads and fabulously oblique lyrics. A Kerr/Burchill classic! (Not saying it was written only by them – that’s not what songwriting credits suggest….but, well…Jim certainly would have written the lyrics…but I can only surmise how much of the music Charlie wrote alone.)

I couldn’t link to a copy of the album version on YT (well, only that stereo difference one…and half of Charlie’s guitar is missing on that!), so let’s have a 5×5 version instead (just to remind me that I wasn’t there – and how fucking HOT DANG! Jim was on that tour!). Sir even does the shouts at the end! He was in party mode that night. Sexy Sir! Grrrr!

And that is why I love…70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall

 PS: The pedant in me watching this kept thinking “please, Jim…STOP POINTING AT YOUR LEFT EYE!” Lol. I can’t help myself. I’m TOO literal (anal).