Back in the crazy outlaw days of internet music, when Napster was still a thing and before piracy completely killed the music industry, I wwas busily downloading all of the music I owned and very little that I didn’t. Yes, I was pretty weird like that. I didn’t have a computer fast enough to rip the CDs that I owned, but I didn’t want to be constrained to single albums when I listened to music on my computer, so I went about finding it all online. Even when I did get stuff that I didn’t already own, I tended to not listen to it a lot. One day, as I was trolling around for music (it was largely disorganized and often of poor quality), I came across a file labeled “Depeche Mode/Nine Inch Nails/U2 – Into A Darkened Room.” Intrigued, I downloaded it. I was fairly certain it wasn’t a U2 song, as I’d never heard of it. Maybe it was some mythical live mash up with Bono, Trent Reznor and Dave Gahan all on stage?
Turns out, it was neither Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, nor U2. It took me years of searching, but I eventually found the name of the actual band: Sublevel 27. Of course, even as I looked for the video just now, I learned that it was recorded by Sublevel 27’s precursor, Inertia 8. Some people haven’t been willing to let go of the notion that it’s Depeche Mode, going as far to argue with the writer in the comments. I’ve been listening to this song for years, and it’s kind of awesome. So how fortunate that it makes it into this week’s lineup with some Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and U2?
Interestingly enough, the subject material is not universally upbeat. The video for U2’s cover of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” is probably one of their craziest videos, which is saying a lot because the era that it came out of was their “let’s make weird videos” era.
But the gem of this crop is “Happiness is the Road” by Marillion. The second verse tends to play in my head when I’m feeling stuck or down:
I met this man In Utrecht Netherlands
He was a doctor of the body and the soul
He said to me: Man, there’s a book you have to read.
I feel your pain, it makes me cry
But these tears are yours – not mine.
You’re focussing on all of your bad yesterdays
The worry lines are getting deeper every day
And deep inside you, no surprise – there’s a crisis!
You might have been to blame
But you can’t go on this way
Must I watch and pray?
While you torture yourself with what’s behind you
Torture yourself with what awaits you
Dragging that guilt and regret inside you
Anxious of the goals that always evade you
Your mind will find a way to be unkind to you somehow
But all we really have is happening to us right now
Happiness ain’t at the end of the road, happiness is the road. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that.
Gone is my one of my favorite U2 songs from Pop, but I actually prefer the new mix they did for the Best Of 1990-2000 album. I didn’t really like Pop when it came out, because I thought it was such a radical departure. It was only after I learned that some of the song titles actually appear hidden on the cover to Zooropa, and that it was just an extension of the experimentation that began with Achtung Baby, that I really gave it a solid listen. There are some intense tracks on there – “Please,” one of their more pointed political songs, “If You Wear That Velvet Dress,” a sultry romancin’ tune, and “MOFO,” which is a much more complex examination of Bono’s relationship with his mother than a cursory glance at the title would reveal.
Of course, after all of that, I’m still going to be listening to a lot more BÖC today.
More good stuff in here, including a version of “Exit” by U2 from the improperly cut original CD pressing of the Joshua Tree, which was one of my first CDs. The end of “One Tree Hill” was erroneously spliced onto the beginning of “Exit”, which makes for some weird listening if you play the track alone.
Apropos to nothing, I do a mean rendition of “Ex-girlfriend” in Rock Band.
It’s kind of fitting that “Estonia” would fall in this list, because it seems like such a perfect funeral song:
No one leaves you / When you live in their heart and mind
And no one dies / They just move to the other side
When we’re gone / Watch the world simply carry on
We live on laughing and in no pain / We’ll stay and be happy / With those who have loved us today