Saturday, December 22, 2018

“Fate, up against your will…”

5. ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN “The Killing Moon” (1984)
From the album “Ocean Rain”

I fucking hate “Donnie Darko”.  I’ve always been suspicious of films that you “simply must” see, especially those with convoluted plots; what usuallyy unfolds on viewing is a poorly-told tale that relies on pretty but dim actors, the kind of faddy visual effects that make the film look fifty years old after five years, plotting that constantly points at you and shouts “aaaaaah!  Weren’t expecting THAT twist, were you?”, and/or a great soundtrack of largely unrelated vintage bangers, designed to fool the viewing public into thinking the film was as good as the songs (delete as applicable).

However, even I will concede that there is one sequence in that film that is very impressive, and I remember being tipped off about it at the time by a housemate who had his ear to the ground on cult films and had given it a whirl in the cinema.  It’s the opening sequence of the film, and it’s set to this stunning piece of music*.  (At least, it was; it’s been replaced in the director’s cut by INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”, and shoved unceremoniously into another part of the film.  Apparently not even the director thought his film was good…)

I’ve also, at some stage, decided that I don’t like the Bunnymen in general (I’ve no beef with Echo, he was only following his programming).  Image-wise they seem far too in thrall to ol’ painty-can Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, the one side of the Holy Trinity that I absolutely cannot stand, and I suspect some of their more arrogant comments may not be solely be for effect.  But this, here: this here is great.  Just sublime stuff – dramatic, ominous, with tons of little touches peppered throughout for careful listeners, yet at no stage is it obvious, overblown or patronising; it’s an infinitely rewarding listen.

And that’s the thing, that’s the mark of true quality: I can’t get down with its creators, and I despise the film this was most memorably used in, yet this and “Bring On The Dancing Horses” (itself at 37 in my annual countdown) are immense songs of undeniable quality.  They make me feel feelings, and I truly believe that they shall echo through the ages as long as human ears remain to listen – yet I’m not exactly clamouring to listen to “Songs To Learn And Sing”.

In other words, this is exactly the kind of song that I listen to more for having access to an unnamed streaming service, with the ability to find practically anything ever done and stick it in a playlist.  It’s almost like changing musical history to a certain extent – accepting the parts you like and discarding those you don’t, and in a more surgically precise way than previously possible.  Is that cheating?  Almost certainly; but each of us will judge the extent we want to do that for ourselves, as listening habits swing away from physical formats and the previously all-encompassing concept of ‘the album’.  It’s not how I ever pictured listening to music.  But it certainly has the odd silver lining.

* = I have deliberately not looked up whether or not this is correct, in terms of whether I have the right scene or not – this is my recollection of one viewing of the film ten years ago, and a conversation with a housemate approximately 15 years ago.  If wrong, happy to be called wrong.

Next up: what is this, the “Year Of The Boomerang?”  You can’t “Take The Power Back” if you don’t “Know Your Enemy”…

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