My friend Trevor and I visited Santa Cruz about six months before I moved here. We met these girls on the mall and they took us to a flea market in Soquel. At the flea market I pulled some of my remaining cents out of my pocket to buy an OMD tape named "Crush". I'd heard two albums of theirs before. I'd put "Architecture and Morality" on my CD player on repeat in my headphones for about a month as I slept and loved each part of it. I'd also been pretty infatuated with their second album "Organisation" and loved at least two songs off of it.
I had read a review of the OMD album "Crush" on Allmusic dot com and it wasn't very positive. It said some things like 'retread' and 'cheesy lyrics pushed to the front of the mix', two out of five stars. And so when about a month later I pulled it out of the coat pocket that I'd worn on the second day of our trip I wasn't really prepared to be blown away when I put it on my tape deck to study for an Anthropology final.
"So In Love" came on and I thought 'this is kind of schmaltzy but it's got all the right emotion'. And then the next four tracks proved even more that this wasn't just some smooth 80s pop deal. "Bloc Bloc Bloc" is aggressive and weird, "Women III" is like a slappy showtune with robot rockettes. After this, the next two songs are wacked out don't-lie-and-say-you-can-play-guitar rockers. "La Femme Accident" is after these, special in sudden cosmic keyboard ways. But the song I'm writing about comes right after this and is called "Hold On".
When you download this after having read this you will stop it for certain at the tenth second when singer Andy McLuskey emits a high-pitched 'hohhhhhhhh' if the fm synthesis bass and strings didn't stop you earlier. But if you don't stop it and delete it and curse me you will hear that the song is about a guy who wants a girl who is so in love with another guy. He sees them constantly together and is crushed by this.
The other guy, then, in this scenario and in the song and maybe even in real life becomes some Berlin Wall separating these two countries with a life on the other side that you can only dream of and build airships out of junk to try and get over - but it isn't the right time. And what's further more, maybe the love that exists is just the unattainability - maybe thinking about it is going to wreck everything, maybe nobody is ever meant for you, maybe you'll die alone a dumb student that will never study, maybe, maybe
"Maybe someday I will take his place"
I mean, Fuck! The song is called "Hold On". Now if this isn't a clap on the shoulder and advice and stick-it-out, things have to get better claim then I don't know what is. It isn't merely called "She's With Him". Its about the future too!
And the song, just some light pop confection becomes this lion that's staring me from upon the bookshelf and I don't know what to say back to it because it knows me and it is probably going to jump on me and kill me. It could change my life, it could tell me what to do, I'm listening! I'm waiting to hear exactly what I'm supposed to do next! And then the song stops. He gets the girl somehow? I'm not really sure, but if he did, I'm not really sure how! The last song on the album is kind of apocalyptic and spooky and I don't really listen to it this time.
I'm lying there on a couch after having listened to this song and shocked, kind of half-assedly looking at the pictures in my anthropology book and I think, "That's it. I'm done with school." I put down my book and rewind the song. I listen to it probably seven or eight more times and then go to sleep depressed for a week.
I've always felt bad that I wasn't a more attentive student for my teachers. But when somebody is reading your mind and then recording a song for you to hear 18 years from when they wrote it for you, there are more pressing things to think about and to worry about. Like the fact that the best songs are insane science fiction that match exactly what you are going through and you want to stalk the songwriter and jump out from behind a bush one wednesday evening and shake them by the shoulders and ask what is going on and how did you know me now then.