/Tuesday Ten/486/Lightbringer

Despite being someone that is part of the wider dark subculture, I love the coming of the light that is Spring. The longer days, the warmer temperatures, and the ability to get outdoors more.

/Tuesday Ten/486/Lightbringer

/Subject /Light
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /337/Hot Hot Hot!!! /373/Summer’s Kiss /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/108 /Used Prior/7 /Unique Songs/70 /People Suggesting/48
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/57:29

/Tuesday Ten/486, then, takes us into the light. That might be the light of the sun, another light source, or reflections of something or someone that may not be that bright after all. As is so often, too, I got a really good set of song suggestions which even meant that there were a couple of late-notice changes to the final ten, as I realised I had a better suggestion than the one I’d initially picked. The stats, as usual, are above.

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions, and next week, after light there comes the dark. Hold tight.

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).

/The Sisters of Mercy
/Vision Thing
/Vision Thing

The rampaging, guitar-led opener to the final Sisters album, this song, in particular, saw Von in a sneering, angry political form. The late 1980s saw the end of the Cold War, sure, but it also saw a continuation, for that bit longer, of a right-wing, evangelical US Government, led by President George H.W. Bush. The “one million points of light” refer to speeches by Bush that eventually resulted in the Points of Light organisation, the aim being for a non-profit, non-partisan volunteering organisation that would strengthen volunteering and get more for the money. Press reports a few years later suggested that the points of light being seen were actually the glitzy promotions and the shiny teeth of the expensive consultants…

/Mark Lanegan
/Whiskey for the Holy Ghost

The late Mark Lanegan was a man who’d seen an awful lot in his life, from his troubled upbringing to the variety of musical projects he was involved in, to the drink and drugs that so affected his life. Despite the difficulties he faced, though, the quality of his musical output was often remarkably high, and indeed he often brought out the best in other musicians, too. The early, bluesy version of Sunrise has an unusual brightness and positivity to it as if Mark Lanegan welcomes the sunrise as a sign that he’s survived another day, and that it is worth continuing as a result. The later version, with Isobel Campbell on Hawk, has a much more delicate feel, as if the light of day is an unwelcome intrusion.

/My Dying Bride
/The Light At The End of the World
/The Light At The End of the World

My Dying Bride are a band of the dark. Of the dark corners of human nature and (particularly) love and lust, and the depths that humans will go for them. So it feels wonderfully perverse to instead include them in a post about light: as they use light differently from their peers. Such as on the ten-minute epic that is this 1999 track, where a tale is told of a man banished to live alone on a remote island, to tend the light that will help others find their way, but never him. Even the Albatross, and the stars, taunt him with memories of what he’s lost. All he has in the darkness is the light he must tend, and it is never enough to salve his loss over the decades.

/Randolph & Mortimer
/The Light
/Manifesto for A Modern World

There is a long history in industrial music, in particular, in satirising religious evangelists in song, using their own words to make them look even more like the money-grabbing fools that they already were. Randolph & Mortimer, however, took a different view and approach. Here there is no satire, just voices of religious devotion, proclaiming that the light they have seen is one of God. The thundering EBM soundtrack to it is one so good, though, that the light we were seeing was that Randolph & Mortimer was the real deal.

/The Light Pours Out of Me
/Real Life

Howard Devoto was a busy, busy man in the late seventies. Involved in the first year or so of Buzzcocks (with one of the first punk EPs, and also one of the first “indie” records, if not the first, as we know it, he quickly moved on to Magazine and pretty much pioneered post-punk, too. Not bad for a man who was just twenty-six by this point.

The Light Pours Out of Me sears with frustration. Devoto’s lyrics see him alternately buzzing with power and life, and then consumed with failure, the light being something of an analogy for his energy just ebbing away – something he cannot stop. A fantastic song, too.

/Half Man Half Biscuit
/The Light at the End of the Tunnel (is the Light of an Oncoming Train)
/Cammell Laird Social Club

A song set mostly in the Derbyshire Dales, I suspect, for reasons of rhyming – as becomes clear when you listen to it. Anyway, this song is the usual sardonic humour from HMHB, as the protagonist deals with someone close leaving their rural, working-class upbringing for middle-class Notting Hill (and all the cliches that come with it). As for the light? That’s the light at the end of the tunnel – i.e. the light of hope – being extinguished by reality in particularly blunt terms…

/Mazzy Star
/Blue Light
/So Tonight That I Might See

In many ways, Mazzy Star was a band of contradictions. Particularly when you think about their location – southern California, and particularly their native Los Angeles – which is a region that feels like it is drenched in almost perpetual sunshine, a warm, dry part of the world that has a lifestyle to fit. But that never really felt like the life Mazzy Star suited. The beautiful, organ-drenched Blue Light sums this up artfully. I’ve always seen them as a band content in the shadows, the light dim, and away from the sunshine, and this particular song suggests that it might crumble into dust if ever exposed to the light outside.

/Super Trouper
/Super Trouper

One of the greatest of ABBA’s many singles – and certainly a mighty earworm, too, thanks to that multi-tracked harmonic glory of a chorus – is, incredibly, referring to a form of stage spotlight (the titular Super Trouper, in fact). As is so often the case with ABBA’s best-remembered songs, there is a deep tinge of sadness and emptiness in the song, as they struggle with the lonely nature of the pop stars’ touring life, and only seem to come alive onstage, as the spotlight turns to them, and they know their love is watching on, from the crowd. This was their last UK number one, too.

/Two Months Off
/A Hundred Days Off

Underworld, in one of their later singles after, perhaps, their nineties heyday, turns euphoric and celebratory. Two Months Off leans into euphoric house music, perhaps also oweing a little to Daft Punk and funky French House of the era in particular, but with Karl Hyde’s vocals, it remains unmistakably Underworld. Rather than the darker rumblings of old, though, this strikes me as a song of joyous love, the repeated refrain of “You bring light in” celebrating the happiness that someone brings into their life. It is a light that is a constant bringer of joy as long as it burns brightly.

/Leonard Cohen
/The Future

The week Cohen died, in November 2016, felt like one of the darkest weeks in living memory as Trump was inexplicably elected as US President just days before. A song that kept being mentioned in the aftermath of that tumultuous week was Anthem, a song of hope amid the darkness. The song, along with the rest of the extraordinary state of the world address that was The Future in 1992, was written in a period of immense change as the Cold War ended and the US turned to war in the Middle East (again), and amid bleak proclamations, Anthem felt like the one missive where things might turn out ok.

There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in

That’s Cohen reminding us that even at the darkest points, remember that things can get better, even when it doesn’t feel like they ever will. Frankly this holds even more meaning to me in 2022 than it ever did before.

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