Friday, August 15, 2008

Because It's Friday (Morning): "Mother of Pearl"

Do you ever feel like you have a "theme song," a song that resonates at exactly the same frequency that your soul does, and when you hear it you simply fall apart?

If you do...write about it in the comments! Here are two of mine.

First, Roxy Music's "Mother of Pearl." Forget about the first ninety seconds -- I've always been baffled by the so-called "red" portion of the song -- it's all about the strange, seemingly endless conveyor belt of lyrics and call/response that makes up the bulk of it. Never has someone so well summed up the sublime emptiness of a night on the town, and written about it in words that make you feel both post-coital AND sad.

Then, a song that goes back to my disaffected high school years, Talk Talk's "Living In Another World." It's remarkably similar to "Mother of Pearl" with its seemingly non-stop thumping groove and its underlying alienation, but it's mixed in with so much BOMBAST. Whenever I hear it I want to hug Mark Hollis and tell him that I understand. The "video version" is tragically cut by two minutes or more, but it's still wonderful, and it contains one of my favourite "musical moments" -- the transition from the over-the-top, instrument-heavy first chorus to the simple, fat, thumping bassline of the second verse.

It's sort of a strange approach to the video...I assume that the band members were already tiring of the music industry and were just trying to make the best of it. There's something almost creepy about the juxtaposition of a thoughtful song with goofy images.


Eli McIlveen said...

It's about time I went on a "discover Talk Talk" binge. I've always loved their melodies and Mark H's mournful New Romantic howl (very Ferryesque, come to think of it).

My answer: "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)" by Talking Heads.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh yeah, I seem to remember you feeling sentimental about the "lamp dance." I enjoy that song more every time I hear it.

Fortunately, discovering Talk Talk is not a long journey, as they didn't release NEARLY enough. "Colour of Spring" is all-around great, and their follow-up "Spirit of Eden" was sheer revolution.

Eli McIlveen said...

Oh, I'd forgotten that it was the lamp dance song! I do love that bit. But in this case, it makes my list because of the lyrics, and maybe the spare, almost shy quality to the playing (due in part, I understand, to the fact that the band swapped instruments in the studio when writing it). I'd love to do a cover of it but I can't get through more than a couple lines without breaking down.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

They swapped instruments? Hmmm, I wonder which producer's idea THAT was? :)

But it certainly worked. The song sounds unlike much of their other work and DOES have a tentative quality...which perfectly match the lyrics.

At the time, however, I think I was just confused by David Byrne in general, and wondering why they were singing it in a rec room.

Eli McIlveen said...

Actually, he'd been edged out by that time (the "rest of the band" having had increasing concerns that Talking Heads was becoming just the Brian and David Show). Definitely his kind of tactic though...