Music

Some Distant Memory – Electronic

Electronic - Electronic album cover

Penultimate song on the 1991 debut album by Electronic, the duo of Bernard Sumner (Joy Division/New Order) and Johnny Marr (The Smiths). A bit of a melancholy song, with some nice but simple Sumner lyrics, which he is great at writing. And of course that great oboe section in the last part of the song. There is no video for this song, so I’ve just linked above to an audio version on YouTube.

Let’s get started.

I really love the opening verse of the song, it’s somewhat sad and it sets the tone for the whole song…

I don’t know
if we could get lost in a city this size
if we wanted to
And I don’t know
if I could survive
without seeing you
And every time I see your face
I feel out of place

I just picture being in a European city, the relationship is on the ropes. Maybe it’s a last ditch effort to save it, ‘let’s go away, it will be good for us, we always talked about going to [insert small European town here]’. But then during the trip you are realizing that it’s just not meant to be. On one hand he can’t survive without seeing her, but on the other hand, when he does, it just doesn’t feel right. Something is missing. He wants so badly for it to work out though.

This is all sung above some simple and subtle electronic music, kind of soothing almost. Then it builds up to..

It’s so easy, why are you leaving?
It’s just because I’ve grown afraid of you
I wish we were at the beginning
It would be so good to be with you

How is it so easy for you to just end it like this? Maybe she’s grown more than he has, and now he’s afraid of what she’s become, since she’s not the person he originally fell for. People often wish they were back at the beginning of a relationship, the butterflies in the stomach period. Who wouldn’t want to go back to that right?

Some lovely bells to bring us to the next verse….

See that girl? She’s over there
I don’t need her, she don’t care
I could be one in a million
It would be so good to start again

Typical Sumner ambiguity, but I think it fits. I’ll probably say that for every Sumner song I write about. Try and tell yourself you don’t need her and that she doesn’t care anyway. Maybe it makes you feel better. Even if I were one in a million she still wouldn’t want me, she’s crazy. But at the same time…it would be so good to start again. We did have some amazing times together.

It’s so easy, why are you leaving?
It’s just because I’ve grown afraid of you
I wish we were at the beginning
It would be so good to be with you

And that’s the end of the lyrics in the song. The last half of the song is just music, but I definitely don’t mean that in a bad way. Some nice Spanish guitar (maybe that European city I referred to above was in Spain) and then near the end (at 3:07) it opens up to a beautiful oboe section until the end of the song. As I mentioned earlier, I just love this part of the song, to me it’s more powerful than a third verse would have been. It has a sad tone, but I also get a sense that it’s kind of hopeful, like spring starting, like a new beginning or something. There is a definite sense of calm.

As is common with a lot of Sumner’s songs, the title is not mentioned in the lyrics of the song, but I think the title of the song fits perfectly. I really wish they had ended the album with this song, to me it would have been the perfect finish to their first album. It was never released as a single, but it’s one of my favourite songs of theirs, not just from this album, but overall.

What do you think of the song? One of Electronic’s better ones?

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