So, for this week’s topic for his show, Billy Sloan is asking which song that mentions metal or kinds of metal in its title or lyrics is your favourite, and why?
Normally I’ll reply with something, but I never go into the “why” that often. Sometimes I try to elaborate. And sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason for what you like about a particular song.
But in this incidence…it was REALLY easy to – not only choose a song IMMEDIATELY but give the most comprehensive reason why!
I said “New Gold Dream – absolutely ALL THE WAY. Not only because it is one of the best songs EVER written, but also because of this exchange I had about it with Jim.”
And well, I could have gone on and said, “which in turn inspired me to make art about it…but not only of Jim’s reply to me but also the lyrics themselves. And, well…also about how the song came to be written as well….in an irreverent and cheeky way.”
And it is my “constant” as a Simple Minds song right now. It’s hope and enlightenment and…gold…gold for the soul. It’s beautiful!
“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
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!
A surprising Simple Minds Top 5, I’d say but probably not from an American fan stand point. And nothing really discussed post 1986 which, well…given the broader subject of this YouTuber’s channel is 1980s music, it makes sense. But…SM did have the high selling Live In The City Of Lights and Street Fighting Years released before the decade was done.
I guess for me, sadly, most songs from Once Upon A Time feel overplayed now. So I do try and limit my exposure to them. I loooooved Sanctify Yourself at the time but I feel overexposed to it now. Which makes me sad that I don’t enjoy listening to it as much as I once would have. The same goes with Alive And Kicking. I need to be reminded of the greatness of some of these songs as the overexposure leaves me jaded. And the less we talk about Copenhagen and “ba-na-na-na”, the better! Lol. I’m sure Jim would LOVE that Otis Reading comparison!
But then there are other songs that I never, ever tire of. And two of the others in his Top 5 fall into that category – namely: Waterfront and Promised You A Miracle.
And there are tracks on Once Upon A Time I still love hearing: Ghostdancing, Oh Jungleland, I Wish You Were Here are the ones I still love to hear.
The thing I will say about Don’t You and all the crap urban myths that abound with this is – some time back (4-5 years ago) I saw Billy Idol tweet Keith Forsey with a question that read “did you offer me Don’t You (Forget About Me) to record?” Keith Forsey replied “No.” And then Billy Idol tweeted – “I REST MY CASE!” Lol
Anyway, see what you think. Do you agree with the Professor of Pop’s choices? Let me know what you think. What would be YOUR Top 5 Simple Minds tracks?
This is the last place I am mentioning it, strangely enough. So, I will just copy the rest of my blurb from posting about it on Facebook…
It might be a strange one to give away as it is so personalised… but there’s no point in me keeping this copy. I already have a matt finish copy of it on display on my wall. The gloss version became surplus to requirements. I just held on to it.
But, now I’ll put it up for grabs. Across social media. And anyone else who wants to shout about it. All likes, shares, etc, will be put into a draw and one will be chosen at random.
To give it plenty of time, I’ll end it at 11pm BST on Friday evening (it’ll be a Good Friday for someone, I hope you’ll feel!).
Like and share away!
Winners are grinners!
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