Currently Listening - Vinyl (6)
1. peter gabriel - security
2. paul banks - banks
3. the sword - warp riders
4. the fixx - reach the beach
5. jefferson airplane - the worst of jefferson airplane
The Chameleons - “Second Skin”
"Second Skin" is enthralling. A meditation on immortality, there’s something eerily familiar about the whole track.
"and a half-remembered tune played softly in my head…"
Its swaths of scintillating reverb and faraway synthesizers sound like glimpses of electrical pulses inside the mind. Its drums are hypnotic to the point of unwillingly inducing trances. Halfway through, the song’s swirling layers of guitars abruptly disappear, leaving little more than John Lever’s spellbinding percussion. As Mark Burgess soulfully croons over a three-chord drone, the instrumental fog is reintroduced, bit by bit, until it feels like “the stuff dreams are made of.”
"no wonder i feel like i’m floating on air…"
The second half of the song is absolutely spellbinding. It begins starkly, but the reintroduction of spidery guitars slowly crafts a skyscraper of otherworldly sound. Its progression is fascinating; by the end, it truly feels as though the listener has been on a journey to the ether and back.
Detractors can easily point out the overblown 80s production as a flaw, but the track’s composition and execution is perfect. Even as “Second Skin” floats along, drenched in reverb and gated snare, I can’t help but feel as though these cliches contribute to the song’s greatness. The atmosphere is certainly a product of its time, but it lends a grandiosity appropriate for the material.
The song has a sense of deja vu; ultimately about the realization of something that you knew was always there.
"you reach the point where you know it’s only your second skin."
The Byrds - “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
Perhaps the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. Every listen is overwhelming, and possibly my favorite cover version of any song.
I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home. BLIND FAITH - “Can’t Find My Way Home” from Blind Faith
Currently Listening - Vinyl (5)
1. bob dylan - greatest hits
2. u2 - boy
3. sly & the family stone - greatest hits
4. bruce springsteen - darkness on the edge of town
Grandaddy - “Jed the Humanoid”
My affections are hard-won. It is extremely rare when I immediately fall in love with a song. But after a melancholic, Pink Floydian introduction with somber piano, a reedy voice sang,
"last night something pretty bad happened…"
and I was hooked.
Moods of nostalgia can be found elsewhere on The Sophtware Slump, but never is it more poignant than on “Jed the Humanoid.” The idea of being nostalgic for a future that has yet to happen is an intriguing concept. Bowie did it on “Drive-In Saturday,” summoning warm & fuzzy feelings for kids watching seventies porno in the future. The recent movie Looper featured characters in a bleak future being nostalgic for a past they had never experienced. “Jed the Humanoid” examines similar themes, but does so in the frame of great tragedy.
The music is distinctly melancholy. The track’s piano lopes drunkenly alongside eerie waltzing organ. Mellotron-like wailing adds to the sentiment and maudlin voices chant each line in repetition, like a choir of robot angels in mourning. The funeral dirge of the music is quite appropriate.
Because the song is lyrically devastating.
The lyrics describe a family living in some distant future who purchase and build a robot. At first, they are enamored with their creation. But then, things change.
"a couple years went by and something happened. we gave jed less attention. we had new inventions…"
In a fit of indescribable grief and self-loathing, Jed the Humanoid finds the family’s alcohol and drinks himself to death.
“Jed the Humanoid” is a powerful song because it’s so truthful. In many ways, Jed’s story is the story of us all. It’s a classic parable; things change. Sometimes people don’t care enough. They fall in and out of love. Children grow up and lose their innocence.
And sad robots drink themselves to death.
Currently Listening - Vinyl (4)
1. the chambers brothers - the time has come
2. nick gilder - frequency
3. the pretenders - the pretenders II
4. dead or alive - youthquake
The Pretenders - “The Adulteress”
Such aggravation. The edge is immediate. Guitars lacerate and vocals whisper with a vicious sexuality present in only the finest rock & roll.
"i’m the adulteress"
Such a bold way to open an album. “The Adulteress” is a statement of intent, of crushing reality, of resignation. The Pretenders had been touring non-stop after their first record and the fatalism is starting to show.
"she’s in love and she hates herself"
Hynde’s descriptions of affairs are some of the best in rock & roll’s canon (“Up the Neck” anyone?). Her lyrics are cutting and delivered in a whispered sneer that evoke both the sexuality and loathing of the track’s title character. The band establishes a caustic background for the antagonist with pounding drums, driving bass, and incisive guitars.
Somehow the listener empathizes with the title character; who hasn’t felt resigned and hopeless in certain situations? The band certainly felt that way after constant touring, and it rubs off on the listener, leading to the inevitable lyrical conclusion:
"does misery love company? i’ll be in the bar.
you’ll find me.”