This one is even longer than yesterday’s. Sorry! I have to stop these. It’s ridiculous.
This one is even longer than yesterday’s. Sorry! I have to stop these. It’s ridiculous.
I was pretty much a U2 fan from the get go. My brother, Quince, is only a few weeks younger than Bono…so U2’s debut release was as about as contemporary as it could get for him!
I was half the age, only just coming up to my 10th birthday, but the album spoke volumes to me too. Possibly more so because I feel, in retrospect, Boy was a VERY aptly titled album. It denotes all those elements of the first U2 release. Bourgeoning, adolescent, insular, self-absorbed, centred on school and friends and the opposite sex…grappling with the things we all go through in adolescence. Trying to make sense of our place in the world and what we’re here for.
I listened to Boy last night. Has it aged well? I’m not sure. It has an immaturity about it. It mostly looks inward and hardly projects outwards. And I can still hear it with the ears of my early teenage self. I was very aware of U2 in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1983/4 that I really got into them myself. And that is when I got heavily buried into the early albums. Boy is very much my early teenage album. And it takes me back to all those things I was feeling then. All those hang ups and stuff. Thinking that Bono was the best thing I’d ever seen – but he was just one on a list.
It is a good album. I can see why they got early plaudits for it, but I can also see why it was just an early stepping stone and not an absolute breakthrough. I feel it is age-defining and age specific. It is very much rooted in the feeling of 1980 and one’s teenage years.
Alert: I am about to make THE “comparison”. It can’t be helped.
Compare it to say, Simple Minds’ Empires And Dance and well…there is no comparison! Compare I Travel to I Will Follow:
I Travel – European dance. Pulsing energy. Dazzling with lights of cars, planes, trains. Cities cruising by in a head of haze. Exposing you to the dilapidation of the east and the extravagance of the west.
I Will Follow – a boy grappling with becoming a man “a boy tries hard to be a man, his mother takes him by his hand / if he stops to think, he starts to cry – oh, why”. Chalk and cheese! And barely a year in age difference between the lyricists.
What would I have listened to more then – Empires And Dance or Boy? Well, it’s easy to say that Boy won out as I only vaguely knew who Simple Minds were in 1983/4 and I certainly didn’t know of them at all in 1980!
What do I listen to more now? The most rhetorical of questions! We all know! This blog isn’t “Larry-elle’s U2 Space” that ‘may contain a heavy dose of Paul Hewson’ after all now, is it?!
For me, Boy is now definitely “of its time”. A nostalgia trip. There were obviously hints of the maturity of the band there. I hear it in different songs now to what I used to. Songs that I probably didn’t like as much or felt a little more indifferent to back then. I have always loved An Cat Dubh (it took YEARS for me to find out it meant “The Black Cat”. You gotta love pre-Internet days. Lol) and its segue to Into The Heart. Into The Heart these days makes me cry. It’s so tender! It has hidden maturity because it is an adolescent mind already feeling nostalgic for the innocence of childhood. Probably a marker on Bono thinking of his mum. That yearning of her still being present.
The last time I was a bit harsh on Shadows And Tall Trees – I guess because that line of “Mrs Brown’s washing is always the same” is the most dominant line in the song for me – because of the way Bono delivers it. But it is a rarer one on the album as it projects outwards rather than looking as much inwardly to the self. But when it does look inwardly, it’s more about how is one going to face up to life and what to do about it “do you feel in me anything redeeming, any worthwhile feeling / is life like a tightrope, hanging from the ceiling.”
The musicality of it is barebones, and raw. Like skinny kids that are slightly malnourished and thirsty for water, food – knowledge. Experience. “Songs of innocence.” It’s very sparse but very bright. There can be darker elements too. There has always been a dark mood to The Ocean. And there is darkness or at least dullness and greyness to Shadows And Tall Trees.
I enjoyed listening to Boy again last night. I don’t visit U2 often these days, but when I do, I still have an “experience”.
Happy Anniversary, Boy. You make a girl feel old! Lol
“He don’t say much. He’s bored with the fans.“ – it’s how it feels anyway. And if I hear one more “he’s a busy man” excuse, I’ll scream! Because…HE IS ALWAYS BUSY! He is Jim fucking Kerr – apart from me using “fucking” just now – “busy” is his middle name – for want of him actually having one (a middle name, that is).
Even at his most busiest, back in time…back to those halcyon days I REALLY need to move on from that have well and truly died and aren’t coming back any time soon, it seems – he would reply to people. Not just me!
The slow death of the visitor wall just kills me. He actually used to seem to take a vested interest in what people were posting to the visitor wall. Like certain things and even respond to people there. If someone had a question about the music or lyrics and he felt keen enough to, he’d respond to people there.
I mean, heck…without his interest there, the whole “art” thing of mine would have NEVER happened. I almost feel like I want to bang his head against a wall just…so he can see how important this aspect of the fandom is to some fans. It goes beyond the music! You inspire so many of us, Jim! When you respond to people it…here’s a favourite word of yours – it TRANSCENDS mere “music and listener”, mere “songwriter and fan”, mere “singer and swooning ninny”. Lol
And I miss it. Not just for me, but for other fans too!
A case in point: last night on SMOG, a fan asked about Today I Died Again – whether it was about domestic violence – quite how they reached that theory I do not know entirely (I guess just from the interaction that happens between the lead couple within the song lyric?) but I shared what I felt was my interpretation of it, and linked to my post on “Why I love…” about it.
Another fan later replied with a quote from Dream Giver Redux with this excerpt: “This song’s reincarnation theme was inspired from Jim’s reading of the Bhagavad Gita.”
Really? Okay, well the only thing that actually alludes to reincarnation within the song IS the title itself and the singing of it – and maybe the line of “back to a year, back to a youth” – even then, that’s tenuous. Also, I am not sure about whether Jim would have read Bhagavad Gita at that point. I am sure he said he first read the book in 1982 in a recent post (recent being…within the past couple of years). I know it subsequently became a much favoured book of his. As a consequence I tried reading the book. I didn’t get very far with it to be honest. I basically read this whole preamble about the book’s translation which was quite a few pages long (about 40, if memory serves). It just felt too taxing in the end. The only thing that stuck was the gained knowledge of learning it was a source of inspiration for Gandhi, which I find beyond perplexing that one of the world’s great pacifists was inspired by a book about war. Well…at least had a scene of battle as its main focal point.
Today I Died Again is penned in 1980, obviously, so I would think that predates Jim reading Bhagavad Gita? Perhaps I have my info wrong and he did indeed read it back then? I still see little evidence of the influence of the book on the song. But perhaps that’s just my interpretation of it?
Anyway, (sorry, I went off researching, and now I feel as if I have worked on this post for much longer than I intended to)…back to the fan enquiry and pondering of the song.
There would be a time, not that long in the past, in which I would have said “you could ask Jim – he might give you a reply. Who better to ask?” And that’s where I return to the special! Being able to ask the man who wrote those amazing lyrics. Okay, he may not have always replied even when I came into the fandom, even to me, but there was a heck of a lot better chance of a response six years ago than there is now! And it really, REALLY saddens me.
I was about to go off on another angry rant but…I guess I just need to give up. “No one likes a quitter”. Well, great then. No one will ever like me. Stellar. I can live with it. When you feel you’ve done all you can and you’re getting nowhere, you have to “embrace the suck” and just…walk away, I guess? Am I right, Jim?
Perhaps it is better we all ponder it amongst ourselves? There was a time, pre-Internet, where we’d had little choice to do so. The fans wouldn’t be interacting with each other as we do now. There’s no way we could pose a question to you like that unless there was luck and/or special circumstances. We wrote to you (old fashioned “snail mail” style) and you took the time to reply. Or we’d have thought to ask you backstage, had we been lucky to see you after a gig. Back then I’d guess you’d have been very reluctant to share or offer up such tokens of openness anyway. “Interpret them as you see fit.”
Admittedly, that is the beauty of your songwriting – particularly back then. Just how much they could be open to interpretation. Your very own Burroughs technique. “I’ve always liked ambiguities and fragments and things with a bit more of a mystery to them”, you said in an interview for Dutch TV in 1983.
“Out of the mouth of babes“ – and what a babe! Lol. (Yep. I’ll never stop adoring you, you gorgeous man. Fuck, I’m a hopeless case!)
So…what exactly IS Today I Died Again about? You can search for my “Why I love” piece on it and see what you think. I may just read over it again myself and see of my idea about it has changed.
“She can’t remember before the heat” – bloody hot flushes, hey hen?! Lol
A fun afternoon in sunny Glesga.
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.
Now, where do I start with this?
I’m not sure. The past 24 hours I have been, although celebrating the anniversary of Empires And Dance – it’s been giving me time to reflect on aspects of the music and my fandom.
There are several stepping stones my fandom took as I was discovering them properly. I guess I should use the word “REdiscovering” as I already knew of them and was a “fan” – but I use the quotation marks around the word because it felt very different then to what it does now. I was very fair-weather and knew very few songs outside of “the hits” and those songs would have only been from Once Upon A Time – the only Simple Minds album I had ever owned until “diehard” fandom took hold.
Unlike 2006, when the idea of exploring their back catalogue extensively took hold, but failed to actually TAKE HOLD, in 2014 I persevered. Kept moving on. In 2006 I listened to Life In A Day a few times, didn’t much warm to it, apart from (what I felt at the time) a few standout tracks and then just…gave up. I keep putting it down to just not being ready. So I remained a fair-weather “fan”. It needs the quotation marks because there is a clear distinction in how I was a fan of Simple Minds pre summer of 2014 to post summer of 2014. I mean, for instance, say…I like The Cure, I know some of their songs and really like them – I even bought a copy of In Between Days when it came out in 1985. I think I might bought a copy of Friday I’m In Love as well – but do I call myself a fan? Not really. I don’t own any of their stuff. I don’t really sit around and listen to them. And if I did listen to them, I’d probably only play the songs I know and like. Does that make you a fan? Not for me. That’s a “fan”. Let’s not forget that the word “fan” – to describe someone who has a particular affinity for a band, music artist, actor, painter, etc – is a derivative of the word “fanatic”.
Rather regretfully, it took another 8 years to be ready again. I started again chronologically, first with Life In A Day. The first change was…I wasn’t quite as dismissive of the album as I was in 2006. I could feel the burning embers of a spark. Although I still sat on the fence about it. This time more than just a few songs started to grab me. So instead of going “oh, I don’t know” and giving up, I went “Well, okay, I’m still not fully convinced here, let’s see what the next album offers” and I started listening to Real To Real Cacophony. Well, I think for a start you have to be open to the quirkiness of this album. As a concept – unlike Life In A Day before it – it really IS a mixed bag. But a great mixed bag! And they wear their experimental hearts on their sleeves with this, And I could hear it, feel it, appreciate it for exactly what it was. And it made me love things like Veldt for being just so…off the wall “out there”! Things like Factory and Premonition are just so strong and incredibly rounded and formed pieces of musical art. So very much an early indicator of how great Simple Minds are and could be. Other tracks are overlooked by fans but are just as incredible to me: Citizen (Dance Of Youth) – it has real political guts that song. And there are dance tracks too already with Changeling. Film Theme is a wonderful instrumental. Calling Your Name and Scar are slight throwbacks but still so strong. Scar is such a strange one. It already seems fully formed and is played live for several months in its previous form and then Jim goes and completely rewrites the lyrics! Lol. The same thing happened with Cocteau Twins/No Cure. You’re a curious (and very beautiful!) beast, Mr Kerr. Lol
As much of a hit and miss that Real To Real Cacophony seemed – for me it was much more “hit” than “miss”. I understood and appreciated the experimentation going on. In actual fact, I applauded it! I was much more won over by RTRC and was excited to move on to listen to Empires And Dance. And…oh my lord! How that album took hold of me. I can remember listening to it for first time genuinely AGASP at what I was hearing. I don’t think my jaw came back off the floor until the stylus got stuck on the inner end groove ring. Lol. A metaphor as I actually listened to it on Spotify. But…I was agasp. And remember sitting there just stunned that this was the same band that did Don’t You (Forget About Me).
It was the second side of the album (I know! I listened on Spotify but…anyway) that really sealed the deal for me. As masterful as I Travel, Today I Died Again, Celebrate and This Fear Of Gods was (and OMG – I can remember how slack jawed I already was listening to “Gods”), it was the three after that – Capital City, Twist/Run/Repulsion and Constantinople Line that I think PROPERLY, categorically, without a shadow of a doubt SEALED THE DEAL for me. After those three songs played – I was a Simple Minds FAN – no quotation marks needed any more.
Constantinople Line to me was like…film noir, a Hitchcock film in song…Strangers On A Train in song – espionage and John Le Carre – cloak and dagger – but with just a smattering of tongue-in-cheek matter-of-factness thrown in “these stations are useful, these stations we love them”.
Twist/Run/Repulsion is also film noir and deliberately jarring which makes it fucking AWESOME to me. I will never understand in a month of Sundays how Jim – still with a stutter that could trip him up quite often though getting more manageable with age (and exposure to being the band’s spokesman and poster boy) – was able to sing and deliver those lines. But I guess that is just that wonderfully headfuck aspect of a stutter in that those who suffer it can usually sing without any of the effects of it showing up in song.
So, yes. After yesterday’s celebration I can safely say that without Empires And Dance being there as the third album – as the “third time lucky” piece – I don’t think I’d be here on a blog called “Priptona’s Simple Minds Space” and have the URL of priptonaweird.co.uk – or be making art with the moniker “Priptona” or even be calling myself PRIPTONA. I mean…where would I have come up with such a silly name for myself without Minds? Without Jim?
And there was the other thing that happened. Once it was Empires And Dance, then I was off, trying to go through all the early live footage I could get my hands on. I wanted to SEE them then. I wanted to see how they looked and performed back then after that. And…nothing prepared me for how…in awe I would get with Jim. Again…it was an absolute jaw-drop moment. The first thing I watched was the Hurrah’s stuff. And I am watching thinking “fuck off this is Simple Minds. And that’s Jim Kerr! Give over!” Lol. “Look at the way he’s moving! OMG! He was fucking amazing! How did I never know this? How has this taken so long for me to be exposed to all this?!”
And I move on and just try and watch all the things I can find…and I find the French TV one. Celebrate. The leather. The tambourine. If I say any more on that…well…just…look at my blog, FFS! Lol – and it’s brief description “may contain a heavy dose of Jim Kerr.” MAY?! HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA! I really should change the “may” to “does”. It certainly would be a more accurate description. I could be taken to trading standards at the moment. Lol
And then we moved on to Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and the rest REALLY IS history from that point on.
So, here’s to Twist/Run/Repulsion! She doesn’t get enough love. But she is a “film noir” creepy, jarring, tongue-twisting little gem. I love her!
Had to be done – with appropriate alteration.
Friday night ponderings….
And for good measure….to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Empires And Dance tomorrow….
I’m not sure who is talking when, but I think it’s Steven Wilson first which means when Tim Bowness comes in to say that EAD is the first real defining mark SM makes, the interjection from Steven for Real To Real Cacophony – I am finding myself shouting “YES, YES!”
And I hold my hand up for making that mistake sometimes. To have missed it off my tattoo on my wrist….I do wish I had added it now! Maybe something to think about for the future. Anyway, see what you think of this little discussion. I think a swathe of the fanbase would be in agreement.