That opening percussive beat. Such a a hook! A drum machine, I’m assuming? A “motorik” beat. Some hear elements of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn within it…but I hear more of Neu’s Wave Mother and La Dusseldorf’s Rheinita. Because I find elements of their music more…emotional. Kraftwerk certainly have an emotional element to their music they never get credited for (well, never by many). There’s this falsehood that that style of music…the badly titled “Krautrock” genre had no emotional depth, no soul, no heart. One word – crap!
But I digress.
So, that motorik drive. That beginning…starting from a fade-in intro point. Then those scintillating keyboards from Mick MacNeil, accompanied by that fabulous bass hook from Derek Forbes.
Others will choose other things, I’m sure…and if you had asked me years ago (before mega Minds fandom kicked in) what Mick’s “magnum opus” would have been, I’d have probably said Alive And Kicking, but not now! By a COUNTRY MILE it is NGD.
And Jim’s best “la la la”s? Forget Don’t You (and that pun was unintentional, but f*** it! Lol) – NGD AGAIN!
It is LITERALLY golden! That motorik beat, like a dawn breaking over the horizon. Just slowly, (sonically) making itself visible…just within sight! Just audible…and then – the rays of sun hit you! MacNeil’s fingers splayed along the keyboard, spider-like, like those bright, shining rays of the sun bursting over the horizon!
It’s gleaming! It IS gold. And then…the wordsmith helps to paint that picture in front of us.
“New Gold Dream / she’s the one in front of me / the siren and the ecstasy”.
Jim gives us the final touches of visual “cinemascope”. He puts it within the lyric itself!
“Sun is set in front of me / worldwide on the widest screen”.
(For me the song starts with a sunrise…but it has a sunset too. In full visual splendour…it has BOTH!)
A celebration of life. Of nature. The beauty of things! Of dreams and chasing them. Grabbing them with both hands!
“She” is obviously a metaphor. “She” is the dream!
“She is your friend until the bitter end” = KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE!
“She is your friend until the ocean breaks” = UNTIL YOU REACH THAT DREAM AND IT’S YOURS!
When I read the Adam Sweeting biography on Simple Minds, he wrote about the struggle Jim was having to write the lyric for New Gold Dream. Nothing was coming to him. Recording time was running out and he had nothing. There was literally a day left! They were on tour in Sweden (if memory serves…the book is not to hand, but I’m sure it was Sweden). They would be due back in the studio the following day for the final recording sessions. In his hotel room, Jim was listening to the mix, trying to get something to click. He takes a bath (already this is sounding WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too dreamy!) and the lyrics slowly start to come to him.
I just cannot stop but visualise this kind of “Eureka!” moment he has. He’s in the bath…and just like Archimedes, leaps up in the bath and dashes out to grab his notebook! (I’ll be most upset if the notebook was beside him the whole time – or he just…finished bathing and leisurely stepped out and dried off. But either way…) Oh my God! The imagery I can conjure up with this! Seriously. When I read that in the book…it added an extra element of…”PHWOAR” to it. I must admit that…just for a few seconds, my mind will wander to that place. That scene. That bath. EUREKA!!!! (Sorry, Jim. I’m only human!)
And, of course, there is that very special element of my reply from Sir Kerr in regards to the end portion of the song. I’m still unsure as to what the sound actually is. Well, Jim explained it to me…but he was being wonderfully…playful…about it and it was the most awesome of replies. But, realistically, I think it is Charlie’s guitar…probably through several pedal effects. It sounds like…cars careering to a stop or something. I’ve never quite been able to explain the sound, and when I was asking Jim, I took a snippet of the sound to single it out.
It has…just, always given me goosebumps. Makes my spine tingle. Makes the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end.
The whole thing is just shining, glorious and powerful. Such a fabulous motorik drive, rumbling bass, such a wash of amazing keyboards, gleaming, bright, high guitars. The most optimistic and cinematic of lyrics. The future is ours for the taking! Let’s grab it with everything we have!
And that is why I love New Gold Dream.
(And the best of the versions…the German (MOTORIK!) 12″ Mix)