Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Song Friday: Bizarre Love Triangle

I didn't like New Order. I didn't really know anything about them at the time, mind you, just that they were British and—and this is vital—from the 1980s. See, if they'd been from the 1960s and British, well, I'd have been all over them. 1970s were a bit dicier, but by the 1980s, especially the late 1980s, British bands equaled no for me, sight unseen and sound unheard. Yes, I was an idiot.

My (first) senior year of college, I ended up in a falling-apart, fire-damaged house in a dicey part of town with four other guys, only one of whom I knew at all. I got to know the others fairly quickly, of course, and one of the ways was through the habits and rituals most humans have. And one of the things a couple of my roomies did—the two who lived in the large room right above mine—was to blast this song repeatedly every Friday night as everyone (well, except me, of course) was getting ready to go out.

Naturally, I hated it from the first. And the fact that I had to listen to it three or four times every Friday night didn't help.

That's not exactly true. It turns out I actually really liked it, I just couldn't admit it, even to myself. It took seeing Michelle Pfeiffer dancing to it in the film Married to the Mob, and the surprising (to me) rush of joy hearing it in that context brought, to be able to admit that, by gosh and by golly, it was an utterly perfect pop song in every way.

The lyrics are...well, they're not good. They're not terrible, they're just little more than a series of loosely-connected phrases connoting romantic confusion and unhappiness clearly chosen more for their adherence to the rhyme scheme—one of my favorites, incidentally—than as a serious attempt to elucidate this most mysterious human mystery. Or, who knows, maybe they did try and just failed.

But it doesn't matter. Because the music—driven almost entirely by an usual IV-V-iii chord pattern, with the tonic only lightly and briefed touched upon during a few of the instrumental sections—carries the entire thing with a propulsion that makes even someone with one and a half left feet such as myself feel like he can and must dance. And when you combine that melody and those burbling synths, suddenly you realize that together they "say the words that I can't say." And when you get to the end, to that final moments, the music drifts off, unresolved, and ain't that ever so often the way? 

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