Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I’m sure this one has been well documented, but I thought I’d put my own little twist on it. This was a British top 40 hit and I remember it as such. I remember it on the radio in early ‘80s when I was knee high to a small grasshopper, tuning in to BBC Radio One at six thirty on a Tuesday morning, getting ready for secondary school (high school). I grew up in the far north of the Republic of Ireland right on the border with Northern Ireland near the old city of Derry. This was a region where residual hate from the schism caused by the Reformation, and all of its political and economic machinations, still played out with brutality. Where death, destruction and despair rained from above, distorting reality, ruining lives and casting a shadow over youth.

Thankfully there was the music, coming in over the border from BBC transmitters, transmitters that we weren’t supposed to be able to access because we were on the Republic of Ireland side of the divide and weren’t paying license fees to the British government. But the air waves don’t adhere to borders, nor did the music that was playing on those morning shows in the early ‘80s. The Jam would rub shoulders with the Whispers and you’d hear Kissing The Pink’s “The Last Film” next to ABC. And Diana Ross, Soft Cell, The Undertones and Joy Division would all be swirling around in these illegal transmissions.

One of the songs you’d hear in 1981 was “I’m In Love With A German Film Star,” by The Passions. It was haunting and beautiful, with its sombre but pretty vocals and that guitar with the echoing effect. It was imprinted on my psyche forever, liable to burst out of my unconscious at any moment, issued from memories of a more innocent time. It may now be — to quote James Murphy’s lyrics in LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” — a facet of the “unremembered ‘80s,” but I remember it well. I remember it like P.I.L. button badges and new copies of Metal Box, in the Metal Box, Killing Joke and their channeling of War’s “Me And Baby Brother,” on the song “Change,” (which LCD Soundsystem later channeled on their song mentioned above). I remember it like Diana Ross’s “My Old Piano,” Odyssey’s “Inside Out.” and the Stranglers’ “Thrown Away.”

I remember it all so well, and I’m still in love with it all; the eclectic sets of music that paved the way for innovation by mixing up music forms that were always kept in their little, generic boxes. Black music and white music, soul and punk, reggae and new wave. If we can keep mixing we can keep moving on, and borders — whether real or generic — can never stop the music.


SeeqPod - Playable Search

No comments: