Minds Music Monday – Wonderful In Young Life – SAF/SFC 40th Anniversary Celebration

I’ve written about this song so much – when I actually COULD write about it! When I could somehow manage to express all that it means to me. 

The first time I heard it I was probably only about four weeks into my fandom. It brought me to tears the very first time. I had not heard a Simple Minds song this beautiful ever before.

It’s not a slow song. It’s very up tempo with a driving beat and bassline and also with a soaring, wailing guitar all over it – but despite that beat and pulse and incredible guitar – despite the pace of it, it is also soft and tender. It has a HUGE heart. It’s sweet. And it encapsulates everything I had wished that life was going to be like for me, except it wasn’t. Not much of it anyway. I had glimpses of it, perhaps, not in the way THIS was. Not in the way Jim had written about it, sings of it and expresses it. 

So, I was just sitting here at my PC, looking at a blank page on the screen and wondering what more there is to write about this most beautiful and poignant of songs. And here I am, already off and away trying to express again all that it means to me and why I am so enamoured with it. 

The bible (Dream Giver Redux) has next to no information about it, other than what I had read on the dedicated (but sparse) page about it…which is either more recent info that has come to light, or this info had passed me by previously. The info being that in its early days, Wonderful In Young Life went by the title of “What Goes?” Strange that I don’t remember having read that before. And also a rather strange title for the song. Thankfully only a working title.

And…so this is the extent of information we have on it. 

The only thing else I have to talk about is the exchange I had with Jim about it a few years back. The band were on the North American leg of their Walk Between Worlds Tour of 2018. They were in Toronto, and Jim had posted about the early days of Simple Minds touring Canada. I’ll post the excerpt below.

I tried to be a little flippant and funny on the tail of that reply. I had said “Is that a “no” to you didn’t know to my praying for the day it gets an airing…or… 😔” and then I got into a bit of a slanging match with someone who felt it rude that Jim had given me a monosyllabic response.

Oh, I had forgotten about him posting my artwork on Charlie the following day! It brought me to tears seeing that. God, I am such a soppy old fool! I was so proud of that photo. I took it in Colchester at the last Grandslam concert I attended, so it was a full, 100% Priptona work and I was so happy. And then even more over the moon that Jim used it for the follow up post about the Toronto gig. Happy days. Happy memories.

Looking back on it, I like to think it was perhaps his way of softening the blow to that reply about Wonderful In Young Life he gave me in the day’s previous post. But I like to read all kinds of daft stuff into everything. You can view that post HERE

Getting back to the song itself.

There are little things in my head that make me think of it. Snippets of things from my memories of recent years. Standing at the local bus stop in Oz when I was back home with my mum in 2015/16 and seeing the local swallows flying about in the sky. Also in Aix-Les-Bains for the Musilac festival in 2018. The football World Cup was on at the time and as I took an evening wander into the town centre to find a place to eat, “a crowded swallow skies” appeared in front of me. Just as I walked down a side street. It was a very warm night and I walked by a house that had all its windows open. I could hear that the occupants were watching the football and as I crossed the road, suddenly around 20 swifts (rather than actual swallows) came screeching by. Swifts are always a sign of summer for me. I would always see them in the skies around Luton in the summer months – dazzling me with their aerobatics and making their shrill “banshee” call as their flew around, circling ever higher, then plummeting and dive-bombing some prey (such small birds, their main fayre is various insects). Those swifts at Aix-Les-Bains that night felt a marker to me that maybe I had made the right decision to travel all the way to the French Alps to see the band I love perform at probably the most incredible music festival I have ever been to. 

Oh, and I was meant to be getting back to the song!

It is everything I would have loved my young life to be. It’s beautiful, bright and sunny. I see … a picnic going on. A group of friends, a mix of girls and guys, all looking so happy and relaxed. Drinking (not necessarily alcohol, but probably wine and beer, I guess), eating snacks and sandwiches. Joking and laughing. Just so joyful and happy. And Jim is there amongst them. And I would just want to plant myself in a spot right next to him. Just to be sitting there by his side, watching him interact with the others around him. Watching him smile, laugh and joke – to be eating and drinking as well. Life looks beautiful. He looks beautiful. 

It is such a different image to how it sounds to the images he was viewing when he was composing it on those cold, bleak, desolate Canadian roads. Perhaps to get himself out of that gloom of those moments he painted those beautiful pictures for himself?


As for that “live airing” I asked him about? Well, back in the mists of time, Wonderful In Young Life appears to have been performed live. Just once. The gig was at Rock City in Nottingham. The date – September 17th, 1981. That first short UK leg of the Sons And Fascination Tour was barely a month long and the band then went off to Canada and Australia to perform to rapturous crowds. Perhaps it wasn’t even performed live? It’s on the setlist, but perhaps it was merely “outro” music as the gig came to an end?

I do wonder, as Theme For Great Cities is listed as being performed on the same tour – but it’s just intro music that the band walk out on stage to. You can hear that at the recorded gig of theirs at the Musicians Club in Sydney. (Link to the gig HERE)

So there is the strong possibility the song has actually NEVER been played live at all. Again, had it been being used as “outro” music – you would have expected to be mentioned elsewhere on setlists for the is tour? Who knows?

I am happy to report that in recent times I can enjoy it for the beautiful, driving, pulsing, gorgeous, tender, uplifting, joyous song it is.

Forever I will be “singing memories”. 

A final thought on Wonderful In Young Life is from a friend, who says of it: The song’s poignancy lies in its breathy final words: Here she comes, wonderful. In young life.

Dan’s My Man! Wonderful In Young Life – Live At Last.

This amazing young man, Dan Crouch, has been sharing some piano solo covers of Simple Minds songs on the SM Official Group page. He had done fabulous covers of Hunter And The Hunted and most recently The American. And because he had covered The American it had me thinking that maybe he would be willing to try Wonderful In Young Life.

So I asked him….explaining away that it really hasn’t ever been performed live and that when I had a reply from Jim once about ever being done live, Jim pretty much dismissed it outright.

Bless you, Dan! Bless his cottons socks! He only went and done it and it’s GORGEOUS! I was crying my eyes out watching it. Just from…well, the joy of seeing it, Dan’s wonderful interpretation and the fact he actually DID grant my wish. What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Thank you so much, Dan! You are…wonderful 😊❤️

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SimpleMindsHQ/permalink/576367563273418/

30 Day Song Challenge – Day Eleven

A song you never get tired of…

The most beautiful song. It will be my favourite for forever and a day. I fell in love with it the first time I heard it and cried my eyes out.

It was one of the first things I ever wrote on the SMO FB visitor wall…how beautiful I found it and what it did to me.

It doesn’t bring me to tears so much now…but it still means the absolute world to me – forever tattooed on my skin. “I’m singing memories.”

Ours Is Not To Question Why…

And I never would. I never did. I asked what I knew was a rather rhetorical question. Trying to be light-hearted and upbeat for something that actually made me feel rather forlorn, but I never asked why it was. I was pretending to ask for clarity on something that was all too clear.

I would never ask why. He doesn’t have to explain his reasons to me. And although slightly upset by the reply…at least he wasn’t mincing his words, or about to promise something that would never happen. If it’s never to be, then it is never to be. That’s okay. There is always going to be a percentage of songs that will never be performed live by any artist.

I admit to listening to it shortly after, and it have me crying for the first time in quite a while. Perhaps because I felt that, within that monosylabic reply, I had stirred something? Or…perhaps not. I’m sure it is as straighforward as…it was tried once, it’s hard to replicate live. End of. Or…he feels it is “of its time”, perhaps? I am only left to ponder, and that is okay.

It’s the antithesis of my “open book” policy. My explanation of the song’s effect and emotional pull on me is rather detailed (and could have been so much longer in explanation, had I not stopped my rather long-winded tangent).

All’s I know is, it will mean the absolute world to me until I exhale my final breath. If we’re all meant to have our funeral song picked out…this will no doubt be mine. (Unless I decide to wake up the congregation with Boys From Brazil? Hmmm…perhaps not!)

And, as monosylabic as his response was to me, he had the good nature to reply…even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Honesty will always be the best policy.

WHY I LOVE…WONDERFUL IN YOUNG LIFE (click to read)

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Soundwave Tattoos! WANT!

My friend, Jim (…no, not THAT one…I can keep on dreaming on, there!) sent me this link on Facebook and OMG…my body would be COVERED with Minds and Bowie songs!

First one would be THIS (already a tattoo on my arm…but not like this!)…


Walking fan song soundbite, anyone?

Why I Love…Wonderful In Young Life 

I have just not been able to tackle this until now. This idea first took form just over a year ago, these “why I love” pieces. They are for my Top 50 Simple Minds songs, and I was going to write one a day for 50 days. I quickly realised that was a bit much, especially as about…14 days into its conception, I went to Australia. Any spare time I had I then started working on the art. The time it took to think about what song I was going to write about and the reasons for the “love” became a little more complex for me. I found it hard to be in the headspace I needed to achieve what I wanted with these.

The aim was always to do Wonderful In Young Life last as, at the time of conception, it was my No 1 Minds song. It still is, really. But it jostles at the top with Boys From Brazil which I have already written about. So, yes…the aim was to write about it last, but then I didn’t worry about that so much. The big worry was HOW was I going to express how I feel about this song?

Let me tell you, to begin with, when I first heard this song, I WAS IN TEARS. I just found it so astoundingly beautiful. Jim’s lyrics just hit me like a freight train!

It was that celebration of youthfulness, friendship and adventure. I never really experienced those things in my late teens and early 20s. I left school very young. I was bullied through most of my school years and missed A LOT of schooling. A lot. In one year, I was known for having been absent from school for 114 days. As if I hadn’t been bullied and scared enough…I was now being scolded and derided for having so much time off school. Oh, the irony!

It continued into high school. How painful it was for me to WANT TO LEARN, to get an education (I have spent so much of my adult life on a quest for self-improvement and knowledge) and be denied it by feeling helpless and weak against constant bullying.

As a result, I left high school in my second year, aged 14 years and 10 months. That is the youngest you could legally leave high school, and I had to get special dispensation from the New South Wales Education Department to do so.

As a result of this, I made and had few friends. One of my prime bullies lived in the same street. I couldn’t escape her. But she kept her most vindictive bullying for school. So I stayed away from school, and I would keep myself indoors.

One day I was out playing with one of the few friends I had in my street, and Leonie (yes, you never forget a bully’s name. I can’t name too many other people I went to school with…if indeed you can call it that, seeing I was there so little) made one of her usual bullying remarks. I can’t remember what she said now…but I had had enough. The bullying by this point, must have been going for…2 years, at least. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was riding my bike when she made her remark. I remember getting on the pavement (we lived on a quiet street and I would ride on the road), throwing my bike down (I LOVED my bike, I was angry!) and walking over to her SSOO angry I was crying. I knew what I was about to do went against everything in my nature, but I had just had enough. I wasn’t scared, really. I was just SSOO angry with her that she had forced me to do what I was about to do. I punched her. I then collected my bike and walked home (literally 20 yards away), crying uncontrollably. I cried and cried. Mum tried to comfort. “It wasn’t your fault. I can’t believe it took you this long. Don’t feel bad! She deserved it!” But it didn’t stop me feeling like the worst person in the world. There was nothing positive about it. I felt awful. I had hurt another human being and I didn’t feel vindicated in the slightest.

Of course, as it is in countless books and films, etc…she then had respect for me, and we even became friends, of a sort. I have the residing memory of watching an appalling pirate copy of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial on VHS at her house. It was at the cinema at the time, and we were watching one of those pirated by recording from the cinema screen copies. It felt very naughty!

Leonie and her family moved away from Ayrshire Street…I moved on to high school, and the bullying started all over again. This time though, it was boys. Really not something I felt equipped to combat in ANY way, shape or form. Again, I remember my bullies names. They are etched! Tim and his mate Mark. I saw the school counsellor about this one. I even had a mediation meeting with Tim. Yeah, that stopped the bullying! (not) The counsellor was convinced the bullying stemmed from Tim actually being INFATUATED with me. Well, that was the most absurd thing I had heard in my life!

I moved high schools the following year…then eventually the reason why I left my previous high school became known…and, you guessed it!

So, friends I had in the street moved away. Friends I had in high school I lost contact with because I was no longer there. Like I said when I made the Bowie art piece for “What In The World” – I *was* that “little girl with grey eyes” deep in my room.

Music became my companion. I didn’t want to know people or make friends. I wanted a boyfriend! But I would just crush on older guys because they were “safe” (ie: not interested in me).

By the age of 16, I had two friends…my mum and my neighbour Annette who was older than me by several years, partnered and already had 3 children and a forth soon on the way. She came from a big Catholic family of 12 children.

And this story could go on…and get FAAAR removed from its point. It has so wildly digressed already.

But, getting back to it…this is why Wonderful In Young Life had such an impact on me in the first listen. It made me mourn for things I never felt I properly had. Heading off on adventures, meeting up with friends, feeling you had your whole life ahead of you and it was going to be fabulous.

And that’s why it would make me cry so much in the early days when I would play it. I adored it (still do!). It was celebratory and glorious. Life sounded beautiful, fun, exciting. Full of hope and future and dreams!

And silly things too. Seeing images in my head of a young, beautiful Jim and imagining having HIM as a boyfriend and feeling forlorn I was half a world away and 11 years younger at the time the song came out (well, I’ll always be 11 years younger than him, but you get what I mean! Lol).

And this is what stopped me from trying to explain what the song means to me, because for a long time, as much as I love it and adore it, it would upset me. It’s probably only in the past 3 months that I now feel fully joyous to hear it. Fully celebratory. That I can enjoy that full glory of the song without feeling regret or forlorn or like my aspect of the kind of life Jim described in his lyrics was snatched from me.

I don’t feel that now. I hear pure joy, pure love. It is just SUCH a celebration of life. Not necessarily young life…but it focuses on it, no doubt.

I don’t know how he does it…or did it. How he conjures up such beautiful words and imagery.

Before I go on…let’s talk about the musicality of the song. That drum beat at the start. I will forever love Brian McGee as a drummer. Charlie’s guitar just wails everywhere. It SOARS! And, Derek’s bass…just manic and amazing.

But back to beautiful Jim and those beautiful lyrics. Maybe it was this song that made me fall in love with him? Oh…it’s a cornucopia of things! But his ability as a lyricist…his way with words, it is a very strong factor!

He talks of youth with maturity and that belies his tender years. It’s a song that should have been written by someone already into their 30s, at least.

There is so much strong imagery. Sunny, warm days. Cloudless skies. “Crowded swallow skies” – it’s late spring or early summer…warm, sunny, beautiful. You’re with your friends, looking around a beautiful city…Rome…Barcelona…Prague…it could even be Sydney (we have our own version of swallows out there, and whenever I saw them flying about when I was out there this last time, it always conjured up this song), seeing all beautiful things, being one of those beautiful “wild girls” with your “little Egypt eyes”…seeing “angels coming your way”.

And the way he sings. Those falsetto notes! And that is why I have my “I’m singing memories” tattoo, because of the meaning of the line…when I go to a Simple Minds gig I am indeed “singing memories”, and because of Jim’s beautiful falsetto notes. That would be the thing that would tip me over when listening to the song and have me crying.

It’s divinity in a Simple Minds song for me. One angel that came my way was this song. For all the times this song has made me cry, I am thankful. Because although it would initially make me feel mournful for something I never had, it also fills me with a joy that very few other songs truly achieve. Not on this kind of level.

And that is why I love…Wonderful In Young Life.

My Desert Island Track

Working on something for Chuck’s Super September. At times it has been a very close call between this and Boys From Brazil to go at the top of my list. I love BFB SO BLOODY MUCH! But…this just always…just…pips it. I love it so, so much. There is SO much positivity to it. So much beauty. It’s so joyous and glorious and it is what makes it so emotional for me! I adore it to pieces. If I could only ever listen to one Simple Minds song for the rest of my life, it would be this. Until my dying day…