I Wanna Go To Mars (Bar) – Caught (Out) In A Dream

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!

Happy 40th Anniversary – Life In A Day!

Someone:
It’s quite manic the way it starts then sounds traditional rock. Almost pub rock. Post punk. But “poppy”. I love that little “doo wop” bit too. The magic of a song that sounds catchy and upbeat, but if you take note of the lyrics…there’s a slightly different story going on. But we’re looking for life beyond those potentially boring “teen angst” years. Adulthood has dawned. “You’re running home before the morning light. There is a new age that has just begun.” Leave the angst behind, Ruby.

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Life In A Day:
Synth washed opening but still steeped in post punk. It does wear its influences boldly this song. Already those more industrial sounds are there. It’s in the atmosphere conjured up by Jim’s lyrics. I always say that Factory is like a lyrical LS Lowry painting – Life In A Day is its predecessor. Some days I really enjoy listening to Life In A Day…other times it leaves me feeling a little despondent, and I am unsure as to why that is.

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Sad Affair:
This has always been the weakest track on the album, for me. I’ve never really taken to it. This to me is the track that sounds most “Boomtown Rats”. The one I think of first when I am reminded of Jim’s feelings when he first heard the album being played back once they got their hands on the final cut. That feeling of “Oh, we’ve fucked up with this. This isn’t us! This is the Boomtown Rats!”

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All For You:
In 2014, when I started my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, this song really made me sit up and take notice. The first one on the album that I truly went “ooh, now…THIS is interesting!” over. I know Jim has a soft spot for Someone, but I do for All For You. Had this track not piqued my interest when exploring the SM back catalogue a second time over, then…well, I would probably NOT be doing this post, or even running this blog!

Pleasantly Disturbed:
The title could not be more aptly applied to a song. I mean, that title sells it perfectly. Starting with a quiet yet low rumbling slow drum beat and cracked jagged guitar riff…it’s wonderfully atmospheric and moody. It conjures up a similar feeling in mood to one gets from Riders On The Storm. A dark, oppressive and gloomy rain-washed street. The genius of adding violin to it…I mean, who came up with that? Charlie? Well, if he did, he cursed it subsequently through the years from having to continue to play it when performing the song, while never feeling he had the true virtuosity for it. From the moment it starts, it just feels on a different level to any of the other songs on the album. And unlike most other tracks on the album in which they didn’t quite capture their live sound right, or John Leckie didn’t quite capture their essence – it worked for Pleasantly Disturbed. If anyone you meet ever dismisses early Simple Minds as a serious musical force of nature, play them Pleasantly Disturbed. And if they’re still not convinced, then they are beyond salvation. Pity them.

No Cure:
I suffered such a love/hate thing with this song. I used to abhor it! For a long time I would skip it entirely. Then when out in Oz and getting into the habit of listening to SM on shuffle mode each night, it played a few times and I was roused to semi-consciousness to listen to it. Too tired to grab the iPod and find the skip button, but awake enough for the song to filter through, a change of heart started to happen. Things actually ended up turning on its head and I went from utter intolerance of the track to absolutely falling head over heels for it! I couldn’t get enough of it! It became a constant earworm. It was stuck in my head for WEEKS. And I played it over and over! Lol. The title of it, once again, became so apt. Jim is a master at this stuff, he really is. For of course, the song had been previously known by the title Cocteau Twins, until Jim decided to tweak the lyrics and retitle it. Having read up about Cocteau Twins and its beginnings…Les Enfant Terribles… oh how it makes some weird sense of why I had this love/hate grapple. Knowing its history, I find the song strangely alluring and ever so sexy. It may have been “tidied up” but the words pertaining to “the game” are still there.

Chelsea Girl:
What a riff. So simple but so full of intent. Speaking of songs that are sexy. I do find this sexy too. Seriously, if I had been of their age, I’d have fancied Jim from day one. I’m still not quite sure exactly what I am meant to make of the “Chelsea Girl”. Is she a prick tease? Or a floozy? Answers on a postcard…

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Wasteland:
I find Wasteland a wonderfully obscure Kerr lyric. A song I am not really sure I know much of what it’s actually about. Looking at the lyrics I have no real clue. God I love you, Jim Kerr. You are a puzzle! The songs may feel like puzzles to solve to you…sometimes I think you pass them directly on to us! “Solve that one, peeps! Try and work out what I’m telling you here.”

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Destiny:
Also a curious one. Seems as if it was a much meatier thing when it was called Sweet Things. I am going to assume by how the lyrics read, it is a look at the life one has laid out for them and a defiant rejection of it. “Can you hear me, can you see. I don’t want this destiny.”

Murder Story:
After All For You and Pleasantly Disturbed, this is a song I really fell in love with quite quickly. I love the drama of it and despite the title and the tone of this song, there’s an element of fun to it. And I just love the way it ends. All the layers of Jim’s vocals clashing and sounding cacophonous and him singing alternates of “it wasn’t me/it was me”…then with that final trio of shouts of “IT WAS ME” and then it just comes to a halt.

 

 

A LITTLE NOD TO THE B SIDES

Over all as an album, it’s a good debut. It’s solid. And yes, I somewhat played Devil’s advocate asking Bruce Findlay if he felt that some songs were “too old”. It doesn’t quite hit the mark in some elements. And they probably weren’t captured quite at their full potential the first time round with John Leckie, but they and he quickly made up for it. And Real To Real Cacophony is by no means faultless either, but it improves upon a good stepping stone.

The album certainly has a maturity to it. I mean, heck, the average age of the band at this point is 20. TWENTY! They’re babies! Jim and Charlie are actually still only 19 upon its release. If I do that “compare them to U2” baloney and compare Life In A Day to Boy – the maturity of Jim’s songwriting over Bono’s is just chalk and cheese for me. While on Boy (even just the album titles reveal all you need to know!), Bono is writing about The Electric Co and Stories For Boys, Jim’s writing about the daily grind of city life, murder, drug use, mind games between young adults, conquests (or lack thereof). It’s young men, not boys.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not dissing Boy. I love Boy. You can’t knock I Will Follow, and I love An Cat Dubh and Into The Heart, A Day Without Me and Shadows And Tall Trees contains my favourite line in the entire album “Mrs Brown’s washing is always the same”. Boy will always have a soft spot in my heart, because I grew up with it. My brother had a copy from 1980, so it has been with me since I was 10 years old.

Life In A Day never bowled me over completely, but there are gems contained within it. It probably didn’t feel that way at the time, and thank god Simple Minds came into being at a time that they did and with Bruce as their mentor and ultimately manager because he was never going to abandon them. They were given the time to evolve artistically and become truly great. They held such promise and it was there for all to see. Life In A Day, though not perfect, showcases, with a bit of “hit and miss” what Simple Minds were capable of. Their tender and tenuous beginnings. It’s an album strong enough to enjoy from start to finish. The only track I used to skip was No Cure, and I ended up falling in love with it.

Give it a listen today. Have a bit of a nostalgia trip and say “Happy Anniversary Life In A Day!”