Thursday, October 18, 2007

Name That Song

I was out at a bar the other night watching the ALCS, and I heard a song played over the pub's sound system that stuck in my head. This was a song that I was vaguely familiar with, though had no idea of the title, artist, lyrical content or even the basic melody --- all I knew was the hook. It was a combination of keyboard and slide guitar and once I name the actual song, you'll probably nod your head and know exactly what hook I'm talking about. Anyway, the hook struck a chord (no pun intended...wait, I'm a sarcastic git, of course the pun was intended) with me, and I asked my companions if they knew the song. No clues.

Fast forward to a night later, when I'm sitting in front of my computer at 2 AM reading Chuck Klosterman columns and listening to Thom Yorke's solo album. The hook suddenly enters my head, and I'm overtaken by a sudden urge to track down this song. It sounded vaguely like Depeche Mode, and, to quote Jarvis Cocker, so I started there. Checked Wikipedia's Depeche Mode entry for a list of singles, eliminated the ones I was already familiar with ("People Are People," "Personal Jesus," etc.), opened another tab on YouTube and went searching. Eleven songs later I finally found it --- Policy of Truth, off of DM's acclaimed Violator album.

So after celebrating my successful bit of detective work, the next hour was spent listening to this song. I'm not exaggerating. A full hour of the same song, just reloading the YouTube video clip over and over again. I'm not one to use the phrase 'hypnotic' while describing a song, but Policy of Truth is one of the most perfectly quality background music songs ever written. I am suddenly crazy about this track. This is the musical equivalent of having a really great first date.

Yet the odd thing about it is, as I mentioned before, I already had heard Policy of Truth before. It didn't just fall out of the sky. The song was released in 1990, for pete's sake. It just didn't have any effect on me whatsoever until hearing that memorable hook while watching Paul Byrd hold off the Red Sox and listening to my pal Aron tell a funny story about one of his friends having a memorable breakup. Just over 24 hours later, I was suddenly a huge fan of the song and am now interested in pursuing a backwards-fandom expedition on the Depeche Mode catalogue, not unlike my recent foray into the world of the Talking Heads. I think we all enjoy these experiences in life when we can take immense pleasure in the obvious and unheralded. It makes things so much simpler. It appeals both to one's sense of romance and sense of laziness at the same time -- everything I want is right in front of me, it's just a matter of time before I see it. To re-use and slightly tweak the first date analogy, it's like the opposite of love at first sight. It's the kind of love that slowly dawns on you, somewhat in the vein of Homer sitting up in a cold sweat and realizing he hates (but then loves) Ted Koppel.

In summation, Depeche Mode is a pretty sweet band.

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Another music-related note for the evening. When I was listening to my iTunes catalogue earlier in the evening, the following phenomenon occurred -- with the setting on random shuffle, the system spit out the original version of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For followed immediately by the live version of the same song from Rattle & Hum. The next two songs played were the live version of Pride, also from Rattle & Hum, and then the album version of Pride from Unforgettable Fire! What the deuce? I currently have 631 songs on my laptop, so could someone with a knowledge of statistics please calculate the odds of such a combination happening?

2 comments:

Kyle Wasko said...

Good call. No joke, that song is so good (and I listened to it so consistently) that I actually named my 40 page senior thesis on Leni Riefenstahl "The Policy of Truth."

I stand by that decision...mostly.

RT Murphy said...

Kyle likes that song so much he wants to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. As for me, I'm more for that particular underdog of a Simpsons reference.