It was 36 years since the release of Once Upon A Time yesterday. I find it an anniversary that usually passes me by without any fanfare. Unlike April for Life In A Day. Or November for Real To Real Cacophony. Or even my birthday for Big Music (seemingly deemed to be early November these days as its release but I received my pre-ordered copy on my birthday in 2014).
But especially in September when we get the run of anniversaries just a day apart – Empires And Dance, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call and New Gold Dream.
This is starting to sound like I am big on anniversaries and know them all….but I don’t. Once Upon A Time is a case in point. It slips my mind every year. Probably because of the time of year it happens. Ten days before my birthday. I’m usually preoccupied with that.
In 1985 I got the album for my birthday…I think. It might have been for Christmas….I have an appalling memory! I know I wanted it though and I did receive a copy of it for either of these occasions. It was the first Simple Minds piece of music I had ever owned. It SHOULD mean more to me! I SHOULD remember the date. There SHOULD be some significance to it, but alas….
Why? Why is that? Honestly? I think I have just grown weary of it. Which is sad. I feel sad that I feel like this. I didn’t feel this way about OUAT in 2014. But the whole Simple Minds back catalogue was so new to me then. I felt a nostalgia and a reverence for the album then.
Move forward to 2021 and I can’t even play the album these days. Or more, I have little interest in playing it. Unlike with Real To Real, EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD – all of whose songs I never tire of. I just can’t bring myself to listen to Once Upon A Time.
It kind of scares me how tired of Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, All The Things She Said, and even the title track Once Upon A Time I have become. To a lesser degree it affects Ghostdancing and Oh Jungleland. I Wish You Were Here has been played minimally enough not to be too affected. And when I played the album back in the day I would always skip Come A Long Way anyway, so that’s pretty unaffected too. And I have grown to appreciate the song in recent years.
I rarely talk in the negative like this about Simple Minds. Well…I try very hard not to talk in negatives, anyway. (We are the “meek and unambitious” and we shall not have our voices heard!) But…I do feel mournful that I have grown so weary of OUAT – for without it, I may never have become a Simple Minds fan at all! Either the fairweather fan I had been since the day of its release up until the summer of 2014 – or from that point on until the present day in fervent fandom.
I hope my love returns. I hope with enough of a break, and the passage of time, I will feel able to listen to it once more. It might depend on certain changes to the live setlist though – or my not going to any more Simple Minds gigs. Or fewer of them. I don’t know.
As soon as I had posted my piece about the “Seven Year Itch” and not really listening to them at all much, it turned it around and I was listening to them again. Maybe just posting and the airing of this will have me listening to OUAT again?
Ghost Dancer (aka Stuart Greaves) has shared another gem of a bootleg, this time of SM some seven months into the New Gold Dream tour of ‘82/‘83 – midway through the North American leg of the tour in April/May of 1983.
Playing the Ritchie’s Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recorded by a member of the crowd – hearing audible bits like the guy telling the girl next to him to stop talking to him as he’s recording the show. Lol (You tell her, pal!) The recording is a good one coming from the crowd as it does. Some people obviously managed to sneak in some great recording equipment to these gigs. Mates who were working as road crew on the night or some such? No idea how they did it, but kudos for doing so.
As for the band themselves and the gig? Well, as you’d expect by now, we hear all of the New Gold Dream album (Somebody Up There Likes You as their walk-on intro music), plus stonking versions of I travel, Celebrate, The American and Love Song. There’s a little of the set lost (changing the tape over in the recorder, I’m guessing?) where the ending of Hunter And The Hunted cuts off and we return about a third of the way through Promised You A Miracle.
It feels as though Jim is going through the motions a little bit at times. He wavers a little, especially towards to tail end of the set. There’s a bit of banter that happens. I’m guessing fans are asking for certain songs to be played. At one point Jim says “Naw. It’s too old.” But usually it is just “Thank you.” And an intro of the next song. I guess I am odd to miss that Jim, right? The one who never seemed overly engaging with the crowd? I guess I miss …. the intensity. Can one miss what they never truly experienced? I do love the ease of engaging “older statesman” Jim now though. He knows how to get the fans in a frenzy still, just with less “whirling dervish” manoeuvres and brooding frontman intensity and more “banter” and acknowledgement of the crowd.
Having said all that…if that was young Jim on an “off night”…imagine him when he was fully up for it?! ERMAGERRRRRD! I’d say he was 70/30 that night. 70 on, 30 off. Or there abouts.
Anyway, it is definitely a gig I’d listen to again.
In the Simple Minds world, album release anniversaries are like buses – they all seem to come along at once! Lol
Take yesterday, for example. Not only was it the anniversary of the release of Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, but it was also the anniversary for the release of Empires And Dance and Black And White 050505 (rather confusingly).
And today is the anniversary of THIS behemoth! The highly revered and lauded, New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84. But seeing as it is only 39 years old today, I am reserving making too much of a fuss of it until next year’s 40th milestone. This year all the fuss deserved to go to Sons/Sister.
Thanks to this bloody pandemic and frigging Covid-19, White Hot Day, the Simple Minds fan convention, set to take place in the band’s ‘hame toon’ of Glasgow (Glesga) has been rescheduled.
The convention will now take place on Saturday, October 15th, 2022, at a new venue, Classic Grand on Jamaica Street, Just a short (less than 5 minutes) walk from Central station (for those making their way into Glasgow for the event).
Tickets available through Tickets Scotland – all previously purchased tickets remain valid for the new date/venue.
OMG! THIS IS SSOOO AWESOME TO SEE THE WHOLE EPISODE OF THE TUBE – OF THEM ON IT IN 1982. Oh, how I can dream to be sitting in front of the telly that night just…in awe of Jim. Needing a bucket in front of me to collect the drool! Dear God! What a gem!
Thank you to whoever uploaded this to YouTube. Happy, happy, Prip!
Lots of Glasgow based things about the music scene on it too. And Billy Sloan is on it as well!
I had a mix of dreams this morning. Some were a little anxiety inducing. Others were just about all I dream of every day of my life.
I was sitting in a rather fantoosh looking kitchen…a kind of breakfast bar area of this kitchen. So…not in my house this place. I guess I was in his house/apartment? Or maybe it’s part of the hotel? There’s maybe some clue as to who my guest was (or more that I was HIS guest). Yes! I was dreaming that I was hanging out with Jim. Already I could just stop here and just be happy with this. That I was with him, being in his company.
I should have known INSTANTLY it was a dream because this will NEVER HAPPEN in real life. I feel as though I am the very LAST PERSON he’d ever want to spend time with, but in the dream he was happy. Relaxed and very smiley. And not the usual slightly arrogant and rather snidey Jim that I am faced with whenever I am in his presence. This time he was just happy to have me there with him and of course I was over the moon being there, and more relaxed than usual because I felt he was genuinely happy for me to be there with him.
And we were just sitting about talking.
It was a lovely sunny morning and the sunlight was streaming in. Some bits of the dream are a little sketchy. I’m not sure exactly what we had been talking about, or how we got to this subject but we were – well, he was initially – talking about Mel. He was reminiscing and being quite nostalgic. Saying how he had enjoyed having Mel working on Lostboy and that the tour was great. Then he said to me “I dreamed of him last night and when I opened my phone up this morning, his phone number appeared first.”
At this point in the dream I freaked out a bit because as I went on to tell Jim…. “OMG! That is really freaky! A similar thing happened to me last night. I was dreaming of Mel also and when I opened my phone this morning, the first thing I see is a photo of him!”
We both sat there smiling away in a strange kind of disbelief. Both a little astounded by our similar dreams. Just both of us kind of looking at each other a tad gobsmacked.
“You need to call him, Jim”, I say to him. “Do you talk to all the bands you’re fans of like this?”, he says back to me. “Lol, no”, I retort.
And then the dream ended. It was just very surreal and very lovely and I wish for all the world it was real. For all the world that Jim would actually WANT to sit around in a kitchen and just chat away with me and spend time with me. I honestly can’t think of anything more wonderful. Or anything that I want more in this world.
As soon as I “wakened up”, I started to hear the chords to this, because I had just experienced a “dream within a dream”….
Well, think this has to be the charity event of the year, so far – Drumathon Live. Both Cherisse Osei and Mel Gaynor took part. I watched both their stints at the kit and both were awesome.
But I have to that Cherisse’s set up really gave the feel of being at a gig. She was in a darkened room, with golden lights beaming in. It looked really great and sounded fabulous.
Here are some screenshots of both of them drumming away.
The drumathon ends tomorrow evening, so there is still time to watch some amazing drummers and also to make a donation. It’s what it’s all about after all! The donation you make will go to several mental health charities in the UK. Please give if you can! Go to www.drumathon.live to view the drummers and make a donation.
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.
As highlighted on Cherisse’s social media accounts as well as the Simple Minds social media accounts, Cherisse took part in Drumathon Live last night.
The Drumathon is a 264 hour non-stop drumming session, featuring drummers from all different bands from all around the globe. It’s all for charity, raising funds for the NHS and mental health charities, including the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK Trauma Council, Mind, NHS Charities Together, and Child Bereavement UK.
Yesterday morning, Cherisse was interviewed for BBC Radio 5 Live about the Drumathon. She also performed a little snippet of Alive And Kicking during the interview.
Mel Gaynor will also be taking part with his drumming slot taking place between 10am and 10pm on Thursday, May 20th.
You can tune into the live stream and donate by visiting drumathon.live
Well, not quite. Norwich anyway. The University of East Anglia, in fact.
I found myself on the hunt for something for someone last night and…going down the usual “rabbit hole” one invariably ends up at.
I was on Twitter looking for relevant info to what I was searching for (no luck!) but I happened upon a couple of photos shared of Jim performing at gigs – which are FLIPPING AMAZING (and previously unseen to me – will share them further below) but also stumbled on this tweet about a lady named Ruth Selwyn-Crome and her memories of seeing Simple Minds on the New Gold Dream tour when it hit the UEA on December 6th, 1982. Excerpt below…
Whatever got him to that look – dying his hair (well, he had been doing that from almost day one of Simple Minds), caking on the dark makeup around his eyes while accentuating and exaggerating his pallid skin tone and combining that with the clothes he wore at that point – he sold himself absolutely and completely right! Whether that was instinctual, or just a “happy accident” and not as with other things he’d do, ruthlessly and meticulously planned, then – hats off to him either way. It was a masterstroke of a look that absolutely matched the sound and mood of New Gold Dream and of that time in general.
I used to refer to him as “Laird Dash Fandango” or “my Goth Prince” – like a kind of New Wave … messiah (almost). He seemed to meld the elements that were all floating around at the time – the dark eye make up and pallid skin was straight out of the goth scene – but Jim was no goth. The baggy trousers and the knee high riding boots, matched with scarf-wearing reflected elements of New Romanticism but again, Jim wasn’t a New Romantic – his way of dress was more understated and still harked back to the traditional a lot of the time. Those baggy troosers simply matched with a collared shirt and some loafers, with the only other hint of a nod to New Romanticism being a flashy belt he’d wear more as a sash or a shoulder of ammunition and have his socks pulled up over his trouser legs, more for the purposes of not tripping over those loose trooser legs. I do find the look of him in this period striking and ssoooo aesthetically beautiful.
The 50 year old me would love to go back to the 11 year old me when seeing the Promised You A Miracle video for the first time and whisper in her ear, “No, just look at him! Really look at him! You have this Aussie idea of a man in your head, all “golden”. But this guy? He’s REAL gold! Celtic gold! Trust me. There will come a time in your life when this man will be EVERYTHING to you! Take him in now! He’s beautiful. Stop fussing over his nipples, because BELIEVE ME, you’ll be fussing over his nipples for very different reasons in the years to come!” Lol
But…I wildly digress and this post is meant to be a link to Ruth’s experience of seeing the Minds in Norwich in ‘82, not my wishes and dreams and feelings on His New Wave Goth Prince Laird Dash Fandango Kerrness.
You can read Ruth’s full piece in the “Memory Tent” section of the University of East Anglia website – LINK HERE
And now, the promised photos… (source links viewable by clicking the photos)