Minds Music Monday – This Earth That You Walk Upon – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

When you consider the tracks on the album that have just gone by – the thumping drum and bass monster of Boys From Brazil and the pre-techno genre Euro dance beat of Love Song – there is a calming and stillness to This Earth. A soft rim shot (that’s what that particular percussive sound is called in the pro world) and slow haunting reverb guitar start the track off before Mick comes in with simple but gorgeous synth melody. It feels as if a magic carpet has arrived to take you on a meditative ride.

Soft little hushed tones from Jim accompany the music before he comes in with a pondering set of questions – “What’s your name? What’s your nation?” There is now – after the rush of the previous two album tracks – a definite “sense of order / sense of speed” – at least a reduction of speed to the more tranquil and more….meditative.

More fragmented lyrics still “shakes his hand / turns away / turns his back and walks away”. Jim seems to have recurring themes in his lyrics. Quite a bit of hand shaking and walking into, out of, or generally around spaces. There’s a lot of walking. I guess it is reflective of how much of a walker (yes, that’s “waLker” lol) he is. Some elements of songwriting, no matter how much you feel are not a reflection of you personally can’t help but be a mirror.

Reading up about it, it was initially an instrumental and was released as an instrumental only version on the B-side of Love Song. Jim added the vocal at the latter stages of the album recording. Probably having walked around Glasgow for days on end listening to the track god knows how many times on his(?) or Brian’s(?) Walkman. Each time I hear it I think of the reply I had from him about listening to music while walking (or jogging as the post he had written had alluded to) around Glasgow. I’ll include it below as it is a piece of “conversation” I cherish. I cherish all the interactions I’ve ever had with Jim and I despair the thought of it being past tense now. “All things must pass”, I guess. I feel as if I have been in mourning twice in recent years. Losing my mum at the end of 2019 and then…well…

I have probably highlighted this bit of conversation several times over already, but here goes…

I used to think that was a ridiculous kind of bravado to claim that. To say “no birdsong could compete”. But he is right. No birdsong can. But the birds aren’t trying to compete with Mick MacNeil’s or Charlie Burchill’s genius. They’re just the males in the species competing with each other for “top bird”. To get the best females. I pretty much think Mick had that part covered as well – without trying. Cheekbones you could cut yourself on.

For me, this song has Charlie Burchill’s best guitar solo. By far. It almost sounds off key. But that makes it stand out. And it’s haunting. Like his guitar is weeping. It is so beautiful. And then to match it to Jim’s lyrics after the solo ends – “screaming edge of light / shines so, shines so hard”. Those lines exactly encapsulate what Charlie has just produced with his guitar.

I had my “heavenly moment” with this song. The Walk Between Worlds tour of 2018 and it starting at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow. We were just a few songs into the show. The songs that you’d expect to get things under way. The ones the early diehards love – I Travel, Celebrate, Love Song… and then…THEN came the B-side to Love Song in lyrical form. As soon as the jangling guitar, the soft percussive beat and synth melody began, I almost fell to my knees in raptures! There was talk of surprises being on the setlist leading up to the tour. Unexpected things that would keep the diehards happy. And of course by this time I was one of those diehards.

I had never expected much from the promise of surprises. I know sometimes that Jim says one thing and means another. I was cynical enough to keep my expectations in check for fear of disappointment. This one floored me. I was ssooo happy! I just wanted to shut myself off from everything else that was happening around me. I closed my eyes and just let the whole thing wash over me. To just let it soak into my skin and try to keep myself in the moment.

I don’t actually recall much of how the song actually sounded on the night. I remember Jim and Catherine sharing vocal duties on it. I remember feeling blissful hearing the music and anticipating Charlie’s solo which was just about note perfect from my vague memory of it. The memory is vague because I suffer from a kind of sensory and emotional “overload”. When things are very special or mean a lot to me, it overwhelms me and plays havoc with my memory recall. I have the worst memory as is – but when it is a special thing, a moment that I REALLY WANT TO REMEMBER – then that is guaranteed to be the thing I remember least – or worse still can’t recall at all. A lot of things I wipe from memory completely. Thankfully in these modern times with Smartphones being rather ubiquitous, there is not much need for me to have to rely on my memory recall – thank god! But it would still be lovely to be able to recall it first-hand from my own memory bank. To feel all the things I felt that night as the song was playing rather than the vagueness of knowing it meant the world to me to hear it being performed and wanting to savour the moment.

I know this is not the most information rich post about this song. There’s never really been much said of it. Never much talk about it. It’s quiet and sparse and glorious. Understated. Simple and beautiful. Mick MacNeil at his very best. Charlie Burchill at his very best also. And Jim Kerr at his most lyrically enigmatic. Quiet and sparse – but also expansive. Cinematic. “Worldwide on the widest screen” – latter lyrics that also sum up the atmosphere of This Earth That You Walk Upon. This whole planet is home to us. This big blue planet that we really should be taking much better care of but never will. Humans by nature are just far too greedy and selfish. Even those who otherwise appear altruistic still have these awful human foibles. We all do. Sadly it is also what makes us human. We don’t seem to be able to learn and change what makes us the worst example of humanity.

But alas, I digress some. For I am sure This Earth That You Walk Upon is just meant to be enjoyed as a reflection of all that is good and joyous about this world. The vastness of it. The nature of it. A soundtrack to the world, of our place in it and of nature.

I’ll offer two versions here. The album version with the lyrics and a version of it from the Walk Between Worlds Tour in 2018.

Highlight Of The WBW Tour?

Well, Jim may not be able to single out any particular highlight…and I have a few…but THIS topped it. When this started at Barrowland (sadly, there is no Barras footage…this is from the Roundhouse)…the emotions I had! Ecstasy, joy, wonderment…blended with this sheer…I dunno! Oh, I just wanted to drop to the floor and just weep like a baby. I just couldn’t believe it was happening…that they were playing it…and I was HEARING IT. And, at Barras (I mean, they played it every night subsequently…but I was thinking at Barras it was just a one-off special thing). I was in raptures! Not to detract the significance of hearing all eight new songs from the Walk Between Worlds album…I mean, we obviously knew they were coming…but This Earth That You Walk Upon was a complete surprise to me…and what a surprise it was 🙂 Beautiful!

Today I Have Been Mostly…

Wallowing in self-pity and throwing myself into getting nearer that SM lyric art deadline. 

My birthday should feel WAAAY off…but it doesn’t. Not when I’ve given myself something like (I’ve not counted an actual figure) 130 Minds lyric art pieces to do by November 1st. If I am done by Oct 31st, I’m going to have a right piss up for my birthday! (I probably won’t. When I’m in…not such a good place, alcohol seems a grand idea…but it never is. Some other substance would be better. Sex would be bloody fabulous! TWENTY FOUR YEARS!!!! Doubt that’ll happen…)

Anyways…you peeps don’t need to hear my crap. Here are two I worked on and completed today. Dunno. Meh. Lost objective…


Screaming Edge Of Light

As Sir gently weeps for the (surmised) demise of the electric guitar…this piece of work of Charlie’s is what makes me weep for its sheer soaring majesty and beauty. By far and away my favourite guitar solo of Mr Burchill’s. 

This Earth That You Walk Upon – Dreamtime Mix

Not quite apprporiate for “Invasion Day” (just in terms of it having “Dreamtime” in the title…and it being “Australia Day”)…but it does make me think of my Aboriginal ancestors today.

I do love Charlie’s guitar solo SSOO much. And they’ve used it twice in this mix! That line! “Screaming edge of light / shines so, shines so hard” is just so wonderful. Always think it’s Jim’s description of the sound of Charlie’s guitar solo. It’s beautiful. So beautiful…

Thanks to Birdy for sharing this one on FB and getting me listening to it.

Why I Love…This Earth That You Walk Upon

 

My partner always sings “Big Science” over the top of it (it drives me endlessly nuts – but I suppose she’s allowed a little vengeance for being a “Mindow” – that’s a Simple Minds widow. Lol. I only just made that up there and then on the spot!) . I can’t say I hear that much of a similarity myself.

I love that quiet percussive intro and the little plaintive wails of guitar…then those shining, gleaming synths.

Super sparse lyrics from Jim. Though sparse, they needed to fill the space. I don’t know why exactly. I don’t really feel this way about other Minds instrumentals but feel it’s missing something without Jim’s words. Hence, it was never meant to be an instrumental, but the instrumental version is on the X5 box set. I tend to skip it to be honest. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the musicality of it…but it just needs that vocal for me. Jim’s voice is like an extra instrument for me on this…esp. with those little breathy notes as the song begins and in between verses. It just adds more.

Charlie’s solo in the middle, I think, is my favourite of his. I just find it haunting! It reminds me of the George Harrison song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – not in any way musically…just, to me, it sounds like Charlie’s guitar is weeping. It’s a beautiful solo. It’s so…haunting and almost melancholy, yet full of joy and brightness.

And then Jim comes back in with:

Screaming edge of light,
Shines so, shines so hard.

That’s the sound of Charlie’s guitar, right there, in his words. That part of the song makes me want to cry it’s so glorious.

People think their music is cold and unemotional at this point. I’ve even been reading stuff recently where Jim said that (several years later, around the late 80s) he was pissed off and embarrassed by the way he sang on I Travel because he sang on it in “the most affectedly unaffected way”.

But I don’t hear their music as cold and detached then. It’s obvious things affected him. You don’t write lyrics like that without being affected (I would think)! Just because he performs that way doesn’t make it soulless. I suppose that’s the point he was trying to make back in the late 80s with his statement? That perhaps it sounded soulless? But it really doesn’t to me.

There is darkness to the songs, sure. And you know I love that darkness! But there is always also light, and optimism.

I mean, look at those words! Few could sound more glorious and gleaming than those ones at the end of This Earth That You Walk Upon. And Jim certainly doesn’t deliver them in an unemotional or unaffected way to me.

I hope he ended up having a change of heart. I suppose the people who are going to be the most critical of their work are the artists themselves. But if there are Minds fans that feel the same way with their early work, I am definitely NOT one of them. I definitely find more than enough emotion in the early songs. Maybe it’s just me and how I work? But there are songs that I am sure for other people seem too dark and heartless that I find have HUGE emotional depth. Careful In Career, for example. Here is my take on that: Why I Love…Careful In Career

Anyway, I digress.

In summary…the synths, Charlie’s beautiful bittersweet solo and those simplistic but epic lyrics, combining to make one haunting, shining meld of a Minds song!

And that is why I love This Earth That You Walk Upon.