Why I Love…Lightning

That start. The bass and clang…something gritty and industrial about it. Almost like it’s going to turn into a Einstürzende Neubauten track!

Then a wonderfully buzzing style of synth that comes in. The pace of it is awesome.

I absolutely adore these lyrics! On the Dream Giver web site (simpleminds.org), Jim talks about the song being about a boy that grows up to be an arms dealer and the lyrics certainly imply that…but they can also be interpreted as…lust, desire, wanting an affair with someone.

I want to see what you see
I want to touch, let me play
I want to try every poison in sight
I want to lie where you lay

— — — — — — — — — — — —

Let me touch, let me touch
Let me feel what you feel
I want to know how certain this is
I want to know this is real

But it’s all an internal dialogue that this “arms dealer” is having with himself. The man about to leave all that destruction in his path, telling the boy of his youth that “we’ve” done it for the greater good. And that is how people justify heinous acts like that to themselves. Their god wants them to it. It filters out those “infidels”. To murder for your god is good and worthy.

And, the words in the verses to me can have duel meaning. The way Jim is singing…breathy, whispering at times. I find it a really, really sensual song. But in actual fact the song has very heavy subject matter.

As I say…before I ventured to the Dream Giver site to look it up, to confirm the lyrics for an art piece on the song…I assumed it was about the lust and desire for another person.

And then there is a melodically sweet musical breakdown as Jim delivers the lines “I long to be where you are”, contained in this part of the verse:

“I want to touch what you touch
I long to be where you are
I’ll always know – you’ll let me know all this gets too far”

It’s like the sprinkle of rain, the cascade of a waterfall…the ashen shards from hand grenade? The descending sparks from a bomb?

I had started on this “Why I Love” in the middle of September, and couldn’t rightly articulate what I wanted to say about the song at the time, so I moved on to doing one for Space, and left it until tonight.

Now it seems more eerily apt to touch upon. A metaphor for much going on for the band right now. And curious too that within the band’s history that, at this point, both Derek and Mel have come back to the fold…and Pete Walsh is once again being used as producer for the Neapolis album that Lightning is a track from.

And given what Jim said a number of days ago about the (Simple Minds) bus only moving forward, with fixed steering and no reverse gear. And that he’d said those words in 1977 as a young, headstrong kid who was “unbearable in many ways, not so bad in others” and that “I’m still that kid”.

Perhaps HE is now the “arms dealer”? Doing some detrimental damage for what appears to be “the greater good”?

It was just an observation. It’s hard not to get drawn into it. It is just a concern for the future. I’m not passing judgements, laying blame, etc. I just fear, much like of the subject matter of this song…it’ll all implode. Sometimes a reverse gear is good…when you’re careering to a cliff and there is no other way out.

But enough of metaphors. And I will not be pressed to talk anymore…so don’t ask.

As for the song itself? Musically, the pace of it, the synths, crashing guitars, that fabulous breakdown of waterfall/shards.
Jim’s lyrics are just…crazy f***ing sexy. Seriously…I really do find this song so, so sexy lyrically…even with knowing what this song is about and all. His vocal on it is just….honey…

And that is why I love…Lightning.

Why I Love…Space

A rare beast in the Simple Minds canon, in that there is almost no musical intro before Jim starts to sing. (As far as the version on Our Secrets Are The Same goes. More on that later…)

“I’ll hurt you if you say I did”. (ie: if you wish it to be, it’ll come to fruition.) It’s not a threat…but a statement. You almost need to read the sentence backwards. If you believe I’ve hurt you, then I have…as far as you are concerned.

“Imagination wears you out. Crying brings you down again.
The dream is over,
The feeling’s gone.
And we were something you were dreaming all along.”

This part of the song always speaks to me on a personal level. I always feel it when….I feel that my “time in the sun” is gone. That Jim is…no longer interested. That I have pushed things too far. Made myself far too emotionally attached, etc, etc. These lines are what will play.

Space feels really personal because of it.

This “why I love” will be stupid, personal, oversharing as a result. This song…breaks my heart, but I love it too.

The past three years of my “uber” fandom has been such a whirlwind. And it *is* like one massive rollercoaster. Loads of highs and some lows. I could…go through it all…but, well, just take a look at this blog. It explains it all.

And so when the Minds fandom rollercoaster is on a low (like about now), when I feel “the dream is over” and “the feeling’s gone”. When I feel I need to brace myself to be “dumped”. When the emotional investment is too high. When the stick dangling that carrot gets pulled away from me with short shrift…this is when this song has its potency and poignancy.

It’s the lines aforementioned that make me feel all…melancholy. “Oh, this time I’ve done it! I’ve hacked him off. I’m sharing too much of the art. Of myself. If I piss him off, I wish he’d just tell me to fuck off instead of being quiet!” The silence kills.

And then…it comes back again. He’ll interact with me. Reply to a comment with a big old blurb. Suddenly, randomly share a piece of art.

And then the last verse is there in the mind.

“The dream is over, party’s over,
I’m still waiting, nothing falling.
No confusion, no suspicion,
If you’re talking, I will listen.”

And the ever hopeful chorus…just like that little child’s nursery rhyme…

“Star light, star bright,
I’m the star you see tonight.
And I wish I may, I wish I might,
Be in your dreams tonight.”

And so do I, Jim. So do I. Nearly every single night I fall asleep…when sleep actually takes hold. Except, I hardly ever dream of the ones I…love. (See? What did I say about oversharing?!)

Charlie’s guitar (unless I am mistaken and it is Gordy playing? He once told me that one riff I really loved that I assumed was Charlie’s, was in actual fact Gordy Goudie’s) is just SSOO bittersweet. Along with my favourite of This Earth That You Walk Upon, I find a proper “weeping” guitar moment. Just…yearning, and beautiful.

There are two versions to Space. The original studio recording done for Our Secrets Are The Same, and a re-recording placed on the Celebrate compilation. I love both versions equally. There’s an extra vulnerability with the first version…as well as the way Jim’s voice has been distorted. The latter version, I love the protracted ending, with the vocal repetition of “be in your dreams tonight”….it seems like it’ll never end…yet it does, rather suddenly too! The latter version has much more of the lullaby quality to it.
The vulnerability is in the rawness of the former….the sensibility of the latter is in its subtlety. It’s much sweeter, musically.

As with just about every Simple Minds song I can think of, there is ultimately a hope.

Mine is…never to stuff up. Never to fall “out of favour”. Never to feel that “the dream is over” and that “the feeling’s gone”. And that Jim will wish to be in my dreams, because I wish him to be in my dreams…always.

And that is why I love…Space.

Enjoy the latter Celebrate compilation version.

Why I Love…Factory

A fabulous synth intro from Mick, then a fabulous classic rock riff from Charlie.

And then….like the crashing elevator within the chorus, in comes Jim with such stilted and stark lyrics…getting straight to the point of it! It’s bleak. It’s dystopia! Industrial. Gritty. In a pea-soup fog. It’s a Lowry painting. It’s Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. (I love that film!)

But…we have a protagonist. The “man with a plan to escape”. He wants out! That’s not his future!

I hear this as semi-autobiographical. Jim was going to make damn sure, by hook or by crook, that his future did not see him in a 9-5 job, settled and married off by 21. He wanted so much more for himself than that (objective well and truly achieved, it is safe to say)!

As with the best Simple Minds songs, there is light and hope. The “black light” strikes again. These are the Minds songs I love the most. Because they carry that message of hope within them. The exterior is dark with a heavy subject matter. That opening verse and chorus are indeed, to me, like a Lowry painting. The “factory” in my mind is vivid…and obviously several floors high (it has at least one elevator after all).

“Factory / we all go out to lunch”…

There can be recurring themes in Kerr lyrics. An example: rain “Walking in the soft rain” – Someone Somewhere In Summertime. “Come/Get/Step in/out of the rain” – Waterfront. “The metal rains pour, pour, raining, raining down on me” – Premonition. “Oh I believe one great day the rain will come and wash this mess away” – Wall Of Love.

In this case, the use of the term “glittering prize” is used within the lyrics.

But…looking again. One could interpret the “man with a plan to escape” as…a plan for suicide. “A certain ratio we know has left us unaware / someone else has taken leave /someone who did care”. So, is the “plan to escape” escaping the tedium of working-class life? Or is it to TAKE one’s life?

Would Jim write something that Nihilistic? I very much doubt it. But…having started to write this, I can definitely see how some could interpret the lyrics from that angle.

Of course now it gives me the excuse of sharing one of my favourite snippets of David Bowie. He and Iggy Pop being interviewed by Dinah Shaw in 1977 (to those not familiar, Iggy’s real name is James Osterberg and he is Jim/Jimmy to his friends, hence the use of the name in the interview). David has such a wicked sense of humour. I love and miss this man so.

In summary: an industrial heart, sonically. The best of German “Krautrock” influences on and within it. And just that…Kerr gem of bringing light to the darkest of subject matter.

David Bowie…I love you, I really do. You enriched my life in so many ways that you will never know, and you are an amazingly gifted song-writer. But…I really, really love your little protege. (I hope Sir dosn’t get pissed at me for describing him so…because in fact, for me, as a song-writer, he surpassed David in my eyes long ago. Maybe not absolutely outright…but very definitely within certain elements of the craft and at certain stages in both their careers. He is certainly, most definitely on an equal parring, if not actually surpassing.)

And that is why I love Factory.

Why I love…Chelsea Girl

It’s that little riff at the beginning. So basic, but so right for the song. And that little jangly keyboard.

Jim writes “traditional” verse and chorus lyrics. I find the lyrics intriguing. And there is some…sexual ambiguity going on within “but I’ve got something on my mind / I want you here, I want you now / you better explain”. Is he accusing her of being…a whore? (For want of a better term.) For it continues into chorus “is it true you’re running ’round? / now is it true they’re calling you the Chelsea girl?”

What exactly *is* a Chelsea Girl? A dirty stop-out? A “loose” woman? A floozy? She certainly sounds like one! “Ain’t it strange how people always seem to know your face / but just don’t know your name”. And on… “last night I saw a shooting star / when morning comes / she hides away / a real disgrace”.

In recent times the “she hides away” line has been dropped, to give more emphasis to the “a real disgrace” line.

But never mind…he wants her all the same… “ooh, Chelsea Girl / you got me caught up in a whirl / I want you here now Chelsea Girl”.

Dirty boy! Lol

There is such a lot of simple but fantastic guitar work from Charlie on this. Fret walks (I’m no musician, so that’s my way of saying his guitar solo runs up and back down the fret board), two chord riffs…all killer work.

An early Kerr/Burchill masterpiece.

But…it has been this most recent tour and the acoustic version that really has made me fall in love with it.

Firstly: Cherisse Osei’s drum work on it – fucking wow! OUT OF THE PARK! It now has as much of a drum solo on it as it does a guitar solo. I would always find my eyes diverting away from Jim, not to watch Charlie at work, but to watch Cherisse just bang her biceps off. Just…off the scale good!

Secondly: Jim’s subtle changes to the lyrics from gig to gig. Little things like the line changing to “ain’t it strange how people always seem to know your *pretty, pretty* face”. I am wonderfully intrigued as to why he decided to drop the “she hides away” line. I’d ask him…but would fear I’d be deemed a pest…and after the whole “Life In Oils”…saga, I really would not want to risk the assumption of impertinence by asking. Now I seem to have somewhat…recouped any good feelings I felt I lost during the past few months.

Maybe one day…

It’s just…a feel good song. On the tour, it was really the song I felt I had to get up and dance and sing to. I would be SSOOO miffed when it happened at some of the gigs I was at, that bums firmly stayed rooted to seats. At the first Dublin gig, I think I stayed seated…but I was fucking itching…champing at the bit to get up! So for the second show…I just wasn’t having that! I didn’t “toe the line”. I got up and I was just…in heaven! Ridiculously self-conscious, of course! I was right by the Toblerone ladies (who were standing up as well, of course) and I was sticking out like a sore thumb. Jim would not have missed me! But I didn’t care. It was probably going to be the last time I’d see it performed like that, and I wanted to “have it”!…if you get what I mean? To just…live in it and feel it and express back the joy it had given me hearing it like that.

So yes, during the Acoustic Tour, the appreciation I gained for this song was…immense. I think I recorded it on the tour twice…I think. Perhaps only the once…oh, but at Colston Hall. The gig I was closest to the stage at. What a night that was!

Given Jim’s post some time back about writing Chelsea Girl with Charlie at his house, his mum coming home from the cake shop and having leftover strawberry tarts for Jim and Charlie to scoff, perhaps that’s what our Chelsea Girl should be known as? A “strawberry tart”? 😉

I must admit that when I walk past cake shops and see Chelsea buns in the window, it always starts playing in my head. Lol

In summary: the guitar work of Mr Burchill…the gold dust Kerr lyrics…it just works. It’s a perfect little encapsulated gem.

And that is why I love…Chelsea Girl.

Why I Love…Love Song

God…that opening synth! It could go on for minutes! I’d be very happy if it did.

What a FAB drum and bass groove come in! Then…wow, such screeching awesome guitar from Charlie. Quite a nod to hero Mick Ronson, actually.

Lyric wise, it’s all Kerr ambiguity and abstraction. The lines denote ANYTHING BUT a “Love Song”. Take, for example, the second verse…

Flesh of heart
So well, so well
I cut my hair
Paint my face
So well, so well

Not exactly romantic lines there…from a “Love Song”. If anything…this song is the ANTITHESIS to a love song. Well, not the absolute antithesis (as the antithesis to “love” is “hate”)…but it is dark, and slightly menacing…and sinister. Moody! Enigmatic. I think it does a VERY fine job at summing up aspects I see (as a mere observer) of Jim’s personality.

It has that juxtaposition down pat! That “Dark light” I refer to with Simple Minds songs of their early period (in particular). Such a fabulous groove! It makes you want to dance your butt off….and that is joyous! But woven into the fabric is unnerving synth sounds, screeching guitar chords and those oh-so-dark lyrics.

And instead of making it romantic as the title would suggest…it makes it (forgive my language) fucking SEXY AS FUCK! Love Song? No. Sex Song?! Fuck Song?! Hell yes!!!

Many fans diss Simple Minds for their output of music videos…but, genuinely…this song could NOT have been storyboarded BETTER for that music video.

Jim recently, when sharing his notes he has for his musical queues said Love Song was triggered by “Hellfire Club”. Unbeknown to me, he was obviously referring to a Glasgow night club that existed at the time (possibly where the music video was recorded? This I must check for “swotting” purposes!) – but because I was unaware, I wondered if he’d meant the rather notorious “society” clubs (where debauchery beckoned) of the 18th century.

The music video certainly shows…loutish behaviour. Boys, on the lash, out to make a ruckus and menace of themselves. Well, you can watch it for yourselves…

The biggest irony of the clip? Jim is removed from the chaos ensuing around him. But, as the boys all leave, he’s the first to bust through that invisible barrier blocking the patrons’ exit. Before that, he gives a final cursory glance around to those patrons cowering in fear by the seemingly blocked exit with a look that says “Yeah…see you plebs later. I’m off for some better fun elsewhere.” And that final look from those two woman, as if to say “what a mysterious man he was. I would! Wouldn’t you?” Yes, ladies! I would! In a heartbeat! (We can but dream, eh girls? Although I bet you two “had a go”! Lucky ladies!)

I digress! A little.

On Silver Box there is a demo version. That all-familiar synth intro isn’t there yet…and there are other, almost…jungle sounds on it. The lyrics are mixed round to how they end up on the Sons And Fascination cut…and Jim ad libs other vocal bits in that version (I do find something exceedingly sexy about those “ba ba ooooh” lines) – but for a demo version, it’s flipping good! I listen to it just as much as the final studio cut.

Another favourite version is the remix done for the Glittering Prize “best of” compilation in 1992. So much so, I tracked down a vinyl 12″ single copy of it…and I was in seventh heaven listening to it! Now a much prized possession…as nearly all my Minds Vinyl is. (Sadly, I could not find a video clip on YouTube or elsewhere of the full 1992 Gregg Jackman mix, so you’ll just have to put up with my snippet of the subtle musical difference.)

In summary…it’s the groove of the thing! The sex and menace of it. That so wonderfully storyboarded video to it. The screeching guitar…those sexy, aloof, cool, ambiguous, abstract lyrics (Jim Kerr, I could kiss you for those lyrics. I could kiss you FULL STOP! “Get arf me, woman!” he says. Lol).

And that is why I luurrrrve…Love Song.

Hellfire! Lol

Why I Love…Ghostdancing

The first Simple Minds song I remember hearing was Promised You A Miracle. I clearly remember seeing the video on this Saturday morning music video program we had on in Oz called Sounds. And I remember loving that X-Ray scanning equipment in the video.

The first Simple Minds song I really remember liking was Waterfront. But it was for the music. That driving bassline and crashing drums, along with those soaring, wailing guitars.

But the first song that REALLY had the potential to turn me into fully-fledged Simple Minds diehard was Ghostdancing. And it was the lyrics that did it.

It’s LOADED with imagery this song. Little did I know (and with only such a short history behind them compared to now) at the time that the opening line harked back to the earlier release of I Travel. I didn’t even KNOW about I Travel until I became a mega fan in 2014. The song was just never on my radar.

Politically charged….right at the point where Jim really wasn’t scared to talk of such stuff. Perhaps he isn’t scared now. Recently he said that “all that needs to have been said has been said” with regards to politics. You think so, Jim? We are closer than ever, yet equally more divided than ever. We need discussion, dialogue…if not then we are left with rhetoric, surely? I think people are scared to talk politics now because there is no “new way”. Everything is cyclical and that’s scary. It’s all regression and de-evolution. Ooh, I feel like I’ve gone all Adam Curtis! I digress.

I personally shy away from political debate because I feel out of my depth. I’m just a poorly educated high school dropout. What do I know about anything anyway?

And I had not long dropped out of high school when this song came along.

It’s rock. Proper rock music. Charlie’s opening riff is the first thing you take notice of. Then Jim’s dystopian opening lyrics (back to the beginning of I Travel) – Cities, buildings falling down (in five years nothing’s changed) – satellites come crashing down, then those big Mel Gaynor drums.

Jim’s vocal is slightly aggressive…determined. The world’s a tough place, but we can make a change “but in our corner of the world we’d meet to laugh and drink and plan our sequels” .

There was so much chaos and turmoil around. The industrial revolution was in its final days, and as the words of the song touch upon, apartheid in South Africa, famine in Ethiopia, continuing terror in Northern Ireland…and on top of all that, the height of the Cold War.

A song highlighting all this perhaps should be the LAST thing you want to listen to…but not for me! I loved it. It was unapologetic and in your face! I listened to it as much as I could until I eventually bought Once Upon A Time. I like Alive And Kicking and All The Things She Said…but it was the strength and guts of Ghostdancing and Sanctify Yourself that pulled me in to buying OUAT.

And it cemented me being a Simple Minds fan…but not enough to pull me away from U2 at the time, and not enough to have me explore their back catalogue extensively (already a substantial number of albums under their belts. Early Simple Minds were impressively prolific!). I do wonder if it had happened in 1985 where I’d be now. Most likely nowhere any different from where I am now.

Another song that uses what I call the “black light”. A Kerr lyric specialty. Juxtaposing the dystopian with, well, perhaps not the UTOPIAN, but with an optimism, a charge of courage to believe things will get better. You can make your life better. We can make the world better!

But like other Kerr lyrics I have highlighted as being in the “black light” (Premonition, for example), it ultimately ends in the dystopian:

“The car pulled up, the girl she jumped in,
The boy he wore a medal that was shining from his skin.
With the windows pulled up, their radio tuned in,
She’s hitting for the stars, he’s hitting for the moon.
She said ‘One last kiss while you look across the land.’
‘Move it into overdrive and take me by my hand.’
When the car broke,
The rebels saw smoke,
And they all went to heaven in a stupid fantasy.

But…perhaps not! Because, that’s not the end of the vocal:

“Take me away. Blow, blow away.
Come on and take me away.
Come on and take me away,
Come on take me away, take me away,
Some sweet day.”

Is that optimism or resignation? Are we still talking about the “stupid fantasy”? Because he’s pleading “come on and take me away”? From this mess? This world?

Well, whatever way you’re meant to interpret them, they impacted upon me. I wanted “in” on that quest for, what I heard to be, escapism. “Take me away”, YEAH! Me too, mate!

It remained a strong favourite for many, many years.

Pre-mega fandom in 2014…just prior to it, say…June 2014, if you’d have approached me to name Simple Minds songs, one of the first I’d have given you, if not THE first would have been Ghostdancing, probably closely followed by Love Song.

Why Love Song got to resonate with me, I am unsure, because it is early Simple Minds and I had very limited exposure to early Minds. Perhaps it was because it charted in Australia and got radio airplay (apart from it being a naturally STONKING dance track! I mean, seriously…f*** me sideways!)? But that is for another time, and another “why I love”. Perhaps the very next one, as I have yet to do one for said track.

In summary…an amazing opening guitar riff…killer drums. Lyrics to die for. Wordy, anthemic. A call to arms! Yet also a mirror to the current world. Militant, defiant. Ballsy. Visceral!

I was in love with this song so, so much…and I am falling in love with it all over again just talking about it. It took some near 30 years, but it helped turn me into a mega Simple Minds fan. Without it, I doubt I’d be at this point now (if Jim is reading this, he is probably thinking, “Oh, shit…can we go back and un-record it? Can I un-write it?” Lol. Sorry, Jim. I’m sure I’ll eventually “pull my head in”).

And that is why I love Ghostdancing.

Of course I have chosen the performance on Live Aid for the video link, which doesn’t have those end fadeout lines I referred to in my blurb (but they are there on the studio version of the song). It’s just such an amazing performance of it, how could I *not* link to that version?! Enjoy! (Just don’t dwell on Jim’s outfit too much. Lol. Long gone were the black leather boots and better fitting white troosers…as for being shirtless? Not on a blisteringly hot day in the middle of July! Best we were spared!)

Why I Love…Sweat In Bullet

Just right from the off it’s FUNK (not just with a capital F) There’s no fade up…we’re just – BANG! – in! Everything is funky…even the keyboards. Charlie has a short, shrift riff. Derek’s bass is funky as all hell.

That keyboard funk though…and then Jim’s amazingly fragmented lyrics. The way he writes on Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call is just…phenomenal. Every song has such depth, such emotion, such complexity…yet his words are fragmented, for the most part. He has an even more obvious Burroughs type technique than even David Bowie! But from what I read and have learned, Jim didn’t actually consciously employ the Burroughs technique. (For those unaware of what I am referring to…the Burroughs Technique refers to a way in which David Bowie wrote songs in the period of the mid 70s….the technique was most notably employed on his Diamond Dogs album – the technique involves cutting up song lines and rearranging them as a way of stimulating ideas and formulating a different way of storytelling…a technique reputedly used by William S. Burroughs to form plots and write chapters and books.)

Although Jim’s lyrics are fragmented, the songs remain linear. A Kerr song still makes sense. A Bowie song can by absolute gobbledegook and not only be fragmented but make no sense at all. Or at least, if not make any sense, be meaningless. Hmm. Perhaps that’s incorrect of me. Because songs that make no sense can still have meaning – or at least be emotive. Certainly Bowie’s songs have meaning even when making no sense (to me)!

Airmobility – what??
Dressability – pardon??
Tranquil – a real word! Lol
You’ll never meet again – thank God, cos you’re f***ing with my mind, mate! Lol
Eyes small – same to you, mate!
Take another fine walk – I might just do that!
Expose – hello!
Society can gain – this is getting more random.
(I’m being ridiculously flippant, here!)

And so on it goes. But all those fragments end up making sense together. As he often did then, he’s writing about ambition…with mystery, sensuality (the “rolling and tumbling” lines always sound like a “roll in the hay” to me…alluding to sex). Female ambition “SHE’S sweating bullets”. Female ambition through exploitative sex? But who’s being exploited?

Rolling and tumbling
Ambition in motion
Rolling and tumbling
She’s sweating bullets
Grow in size
Grow in fame
Grow more
Take more

Elements of the lyrics remind me of Iggy Pop’s Ambition – a song from his 1980 album Soldier. One of my very favourites of his, and that was long before I realised Jim and Co perform backing vocals on another track on the album – Play It Safe (or as the track listing had it on a copy I used to own on CD – Play It Sale!).

Ambition is written from a female angle:

I’m the kind of girl
I want that whole wide world
Nothing more, nothing less
I don’t want second best…

But they must be kidding
Or wishful thinking
Adding fuel to the fire
Of my ambition

I’ll make a date
Oh no I won’t be late
And why of course he’ll be there
He’ll promise he’ll swear

But all I ever find
Been spun that same old line
It’s happened time and time again before…

And it has one of the best guitar outros on a song.

The 12″ of Sweat In Bullet has one of the best uses of cow bell you are ever likely to hear. It is part of Simple Minds fan legend, and the in-joke of “more cow bell!” cracks me up every time. But it’s fabulous. One of their best extended mixes. The amount of funk the song already has, and then to layer it with cow bell is just…genius! (The cow bell also appears on the edited 3 minute version used in the video and on the 7″ single release.)

In summary. A groove and a funk like no other (that’s not to say other SM songs don’t have funk and groove…but this is a cut above), Jim’s incredible fragmented lyrics…it’s just funk, and sass, and sex, and ambition. It has…dancabilty…sensibility…funkability…sensuality…cow bellability! Lol

And that is why I love Sweat In Bullet.

Whack that cow bell, Kenny! (Though it is actually Brian McGee playing it on the record.)

The pictures are of a coffee mug I made featuring the lyric artwork I did for the song. Still one of my favourite artworks. I love that melted, embossed look I gave it…suits the lyric SSOO well.

Why I Love…Criminal World

It’s the beginning. A rare use of keyboards for the period for SM, and percussive cross-stick snare beat.

I find it a mysterious song. Is it already a “Criminal World” and we’re seeking escape? Or is the world “criminal” because we desire answers, light, love? And the trouble you seek from wanting these creates that “Criminal World”?

I really love Jim’s vocal on this. For me, Good News From The Next World sees Jim return to a great vocal style that I felt he lost after Once Upon A Time. My personal opinion, of course…there are exceptions to it, of course…and it was more to do with his vocal performances live during the late 80s/early 90s than anything…I dunno.

Anyway…I slightly digress. But, yes, a return to great vocals from Jim, for me. In particular deliveries of certain lines and words. Maybe I’m silly for being this way, I don’t know? But I like the way he delivers the line “I walk on every highway”…and I don’t understand why. Just the annunciations and stuff. And the way he says “hurts” in the “it screams and it hurts” line. He makes that “hurts” sound like a scream. Bloody hell, he can be a sexy, sexy man! (Can be???! IS!) I just find the nuances in the vocal style captivating. He whispers, spits venom, uses falsetto…a whole range.

Charlie plays some killer guitar. Really love how he plays on this. Proper traditional rock style. Lots of proper wailing, screaming guitar. And great riffs!

There are some Simple Minds fans who get puzzled by SM being referred to as a “rock” band. I don’t see why. They started out that way. Post-punk. Life In A Day is quite a “rocky” album. You can use synths and keyboards and still be a rock band. One listen to Good News From The Next World and you’ll have no doubt how ROCK Simple Minds can be.

It’s my favourite track on the Good News album. There are many stand outs, of course: Hypnotised, 7 Deadly Sins, Night Music, This Time, and to a slightly lesser extent (only because it feels a little “overplayed”) She’s A River.

Checking the musicians that worked on the album I saw, so by what Wikipedia says of it, it was reviewed favourably by the music press in the USA, but not so much here in the UK. It’s a curveball, I suppose – compared to SFY and Real Life…but one UK reviewer, John Harris, pretty much calls it “tuneless”. REALLY?! WTF, mate? Did you hear what else was around at the time?! To each their own, I suppose.

In summary. A fabulously written song by Jim. I mean…I tend to love his more fragmented and darker works. This has more cohesion and structure to it. It shows a honed craftsman…but it has great mystery and depth. A great vocal performance by him too. Love the keyboards…Mr Burchill, you multi-talented sod! Lol. And those screaming, wailing guitars and riffs. Just…5 minutes of great rock. And one of the best fade-outs on a Minds song. Fading out on that fab riff. Brilliant!

And that is why I love…Criminal World.

Why I Love…New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84)

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)

Why I Love…Someone Somewhere In Summertime

I haven’t written one of these in SUCH a long time, but here goes…

I have probably been aware of this track since at least 1984, if not since its release in 1982. It has been a long favourite.

That unmistakable guitar riff of Charlie’s, and those amazingly picturesque and romantic lyrics of Jim’s, combined with those choral key notes of Mick MacNeil’s. I am stunned it didn’t chart better than it did, being the third single off New Gold Dream. It should have charted better than Glittering Prize. I love Glittering Prize, but SSIS is a stronger track. Whosever decision it was on the track listing for NGD must have agreed as it was the album’s opener.

And speaking of opening…usually when performed live, it is started with Charlie’s intro solo that you hear on the extended version of the song (the 12″ single version, not the album version). My partner and I tend to have a giggle at this due to the crowd’s reaction. We recognise it from the solo. It never usually receives a spoken introduction from Jim…the first signal is Charlie’s solo…but the crowd never seem ready for it. Perhaps it is one of two things: a) The crowd KNOW what it is but want to hear Charlie’s solo, or: b) What me and the OH have a giggle over…that they are genuinely clueless (surely not???!!) and that’s why the cheers and applause start AFTER Charlie’s solo.

The OH and I find much mirth in watching live performances.
Queue Charlie’s solo: the OH and I take up roles as two fans in the crowd “Hmmm. What’s this song? I don’t recognise it! What do you think it is?”
“I don’t know, but Charlie sounds great. I’m not sure I’ve heard it before.”
Song goes into main guitar riff: (us in unison) “OH MY GOD! It’s this one!! Duh!!! Lol”

Lol. We do this nearly every time. We even shared a wry look to each other at Cambridge. Our silly little running “in joke” between us.

It has always been a very visual song for me. I have seen this “cinematic” effect to this song for YEARS.
Simple Minds, last year, in May (if memory serves) announced a search for a visual artist/movie maker/director to storyboard a concept for a video for SSIS. Despite it being New Gold Dream’s third single, a video for it was never made.They were, at last, going to make one, and have it tie in with the release of the NGD box set that was set for release last July.

I looked into it. I wanted to submit my ideas and perhaps storyboard it and see how far I got. But you needed to be subscribed and be a member of this Creative Commons site and it cost money to subscribe (about £10 a month). I really considered it but decided I’d probably not get anywhere and waste my money. My OH is a videographer and ran her own business for 15 years. I helped her in the latter years, being an editor, but neither of us had any directorial experience. It all felt very “pie in the sky”.

There was a £2,500 budget on offer. We could have done a lot with that.

Anyway, I knocked the idea on the head quickly, thinking there’d be experienced people submitting ideas…but perhaps no one did…because nothing came of it. The idea seemed to be shelved. I was looking forward to seeing what was going to be made, and if it would match the storyboard I’ve had in my head for at least the past 25 years…if not longer.

It’s these lines I could visualise most:
I’m burning slow
With me in the rain
Walking in the soft rain
Calling out my name
See me burning slow.”

They are just some of the most beautiful lines in a song. Ever. And I have thought that since LONG before being an uber Minds fan…and LONG before wishing to be the subject of those lines and actually picturing Jim with them.

Those lines speak “stay with me, be by my side, I adore you…let’s smoulder in the rain together!”
Jim Kerr – you romantic bugger! It’s Wordsworth! It’s Shelley!

And then there are lines that almost juxtapose that sentiment. Love is yet to be found…

“Somewhere there is some place that one million eyes can’t see.
And somewhere there is someone who can see what I can see.
In summertime.”

But there is something all inclusive in those lines. It’s no longer just a couple…lovers…it’s… “You’re not alone, because I see what you see. You’ll never be alone because there is at least one person who sees the same as you.”

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’re ever heard?!

I almost can’t talk of the musicality of the song, but I will try my best. (It’s almost like there’s too much poetry to it. It is too lyrically stunning…the music for this song almost becomes a byproduct.) Seeing as the melody and music usually starts first with any SM song, there was obviously poetry that Jim heard in the musical structure of it.

Jim rarely wrote like that then, with a poetic structure to the lyrics. His lyrics were so fragmented and never really followed strict verse and chorus structures. It’s partly what makes him as a lyricist SSOO fascinating.

Oh, yeah…I was meant to be talking about its musicality. Shit. Lol.

What can I say? A Burchill/MacNeil gem. Complimentary to each other, as usual…they intersect in such a lush way. They sound like they’re playing several instruments, not just guitar and keyboards. Layers. An aural palette of endless colour combinations. Adding to the richness of the colour I see in my storyboard.

But…it’s those lyrics. Always those lyrics. And the beautiful imagery that comes with them.

And that is why I love…Someone Somewhere In Summertime.

Details of image used here – http://pin.it/6EoixMd
The image I used is not a direct image I have in my head…what I visualise…but it’s some way there.