We Talk A Lot – Mostly To Ourselves: Pondering “Today I Died Again”.

“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

The Best Lyricist? NO CONTEST!

Billy Sloan when presenting his weekly Saturday night show for BBC Radio Scotland has a theme every week, as part of listener participation. This week it was who do you think is the greatest songwriter/lyricist and an example of two lines that you believe perfectly encapsulates their prowess.

Now, whenever I mention SM my things usually get overlooked, so I tend to choose other things. But this week I was ADAMANT that I was going to plumb for Jim. Other than Bowie, Jim is my absolute lyrical god! It is why I do the art that I do. It all started from wanting to show his lyrical talent. Yes, there are others I love too. And had I said Bryan Ferry or John Grant, I’m sure my nominations would have been read out…but because I chose Jim? Nada!

Well…you don’t get an Ivor Novello award for nowt!

And Jim sounds kind of dismissive of how Simple Minds used to write songs because “We didn’t know how to write songs. We didn’t know any songwriters.” Well, good! Because you were fabulous and unique and it made you stand out from the crowd!

I’m going to be a little disparaging now and say that *I*, personally, wish you hadn’t “found the formula” in some ways. Because now most SM songs are “verse – chorus – verse – chorus” and I miss things like Citizen and Careful In Career and Capital City….and other songs that don’t start with “C”. Lol. I miss that unorthodox structure.

Twist/Run/Repulsion – so good, you wrote bloody lyrics TWICE OVER for it! Lol. Who writes a song like Twist/Run/repulsion now? No one! Not even you yourself, Jim!

So, yeah…I’m sure I was laughed out of town by anyone else seeing my comment on the Billy Sloan Show FB page…but FUCK IT! You guys just don’t know fucking genius when you see it! I do!

Oh, and he still writes fab…don’t get me wrong! I just kinda wish it didn’t seem quite so…formulaic sometimes, that’s all. He can still surprise. A song like Utopia is a prime example. Silent Kiss too. The structure of those two, in particular, hark back to the former Kerr style of songwriting. As long as they are still there. As long as he can still surprise…while also being masterful at “the formula”, he’ll always have my vote.

Anyway, I don’t really know what this post is about other than me just doing a fist-shake at Billy for snubbing my suggestion of Jim.

Yes! He’s busy and can’t read everyone’s suggestions out! But one guy had suggestions read out FOUR TIMES last night!

I will ALWAYS fight your corner, Jim. I know you don’t need it…but I will fight it anyway. I don’t tell you much these days how fucking amazing you are as a songwriter…not in so many words…I always hope the art conveys that. I tell you enough I adore you and think you’re hot AF! Lol. But…getting down to brass tacks. The thing I admire you for, love you for the most is those words. The songwriting. The visual cinemascope you put into every Simple Minds song you add words to.

All You’ve Got To Do Is…

Just…wow! I could see it play out, just the way he described it. The street scene of him avoiding his grandfather and the notion of yet another dressing down.

I could see this little man, tough as nails looking…but also looking quite frail and vulnerable at the same time (well, Jim’s only clue on how his grandfather looked was to say he was short…my mind’s eye filled in the rest). Also on the road walking along from the opposite direction, a young punk – not the traditional sense of a punk. Just, a roguish teen. Seeing that boy spot the older man ahead, his face turning ashen with a mix of anguish and despondency. Quickly taking evasive action not to be seen – hastily crossing the road. The older man walks on, deep in his own thoughts, none the wiser the young man just avoided him.

The first tragedy.

The second being the return back to the young punk and the expression on his face now being one that is forlorn, regretful. Fleeting the expression is, though, for he then moves on.

Jim…you write so beautifully. Not just lyrics…but in every way you express yourself. If your grandfather can (as we all love to take solace in believing) see you from wherever his soul or spirit exists…he will definitely be proud of…not just the career you made for yourself, but of the beautiful person you are. No hyperbole.

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The YouTube clip is for the Bowie song Win…which I have always taken to be a melancholic piece. Maybe it’s the sound of it…the way David sings it…in a remorseful, regretful voice…it’s not until towards the end of the track, with those emphatic “ALL YOU’VE GOT TO DO IS WIN…ALL YOU’VE GOT…IS ALL YOU’VE GOT!” And that final fading backing vocal sweep of “ain’t overrrrrrrr” where it finally becomes uplifting.

“Secret thinker sometimes listening aloud
Life lies dumb on its heroes
Wear your wound with honor, make someone proud”