There was a clear pattern to pretty much all of the suggestion threads that I initiated last year. In one way or another, they mostly linked to the situation we found ourselves in: our normal way of life upended, unable to travel or socialise in the usual ways for most of the past year. That bore a mix of frustration, anger, sadness and the odd glimmer of hope.
Needless to say, this has been a difficult time for all of us. But while most of the other related suggestion threads turned out to be easy to write, I rather put this one on the back-burner, as I couldn’t quite make it work. As is often the way, a bit of time and distance, and I was able to tackle it anew.
This week, then, is about the idea of need and want. Definition is important here: the verb “need” is defined as “require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable.”, while the noun “need” is defined as “circumstances in which something is necessary; necessity.” or “a thing that is wanted or required.”. “Want” is a bit different, of course: as a verb, “have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.”, and as a noun, “a desire for something.”.
Clear? Needless to say there are a lot of songs that cover one or both of these subjects, and this post is a mix of the two. No less than 165 songs were suggested for this post, from the usual Facebook thread. 14 of those have been used before, and there were 136 unique songs. 62 people made suggestions – thanks, as ever, to all of you.
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. 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).
/Talk Show Host
/Street Spirit (Fade Out) EP
Probably Radiohead’s finest B-side – and one that was later reworked and remixed for use on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, which will likely be the version most people know better.. Like so many Radiohead songs of the time, it crackles with self-loathing and disgust at the outside world in equal measure, as Thom Yorke appears to bristle at the idea of yet more engagement with the world (remember at the time, everyone was beginning to want to have a piece of them), just wanting everyone to leave him the fuck alone. Perhaps, too, a key stepping stone to the futuristic fears of OK Computer, seemingly programmed and treated drums get relegated deep into the mix, the front-end being just that delicately picked guitar, and Yorke’s stark vocals.
The sheer bombast of the Sisters at the peak of their powers is perhaps unmatched by any of their peers. They looked to the stars and for a while at least, somehow stayed there, and perhaps that might be down to the fact that they worked with Jim Steinman, a producer not known for his subtlety and restraint (his best known collaborations otherwise? Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler, neither of them shrinking violets). This song, the first of the singles from the searing Vision Thing, is an eight-minute epic where Andrew Eldritch was thinking big. He wanted more from his relationships, more from his success – and, going on the fact that the band never released another new track officially, more from his record label, too.
What I didn’t know is that on a recent album Braver Than We Are, Meat Loaf covered More, and the glove still fits.
/Kinda I Want To
/Pretty Hate Machine
Firstly, a reminder that Pretty Hate Machine is now 32 years old: so kinda a relic of eighties industrial/synthpop in some respects, but at least as far as I’m concerned, it rather got a new lease of life thanks to the extraordinary remastering job done on the album a decade or so ago. Following that, too, it was notable that a number of oft-neglected songs from this album reappeared in the ever-changing NIN live sets, but this was not one of them – indeed Trent Reznor apparently hates the song, thinking it’s one of the worst he wrote, apparently, and it was only ever played live in 1989! (here is some sketchy footage of it from the time).
I think it’s better than Reznor thinks – in fact, it has long been one of my favourites from the album, a song where Reznor positions himself as wanting to leap in with both feet into a lustful situation that he really, really shouldn’t – knowing that it’ll be bad for him, but what harm can one night do? We’ve mostly all been there, right? Complete with the regret the next day, too.
/Need You Tonight
The big, big hit that cemented the position of INXS as worldwide stars (it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, and #2 in the UK, as well as being a top ten hit in countless other countries) back in 1987, it is an oh-so-sleazy, powerful rock track that is carried by two things – that fabulous guitar riff by Andrew Farriss, and the magnetic vocal by Michael Hutchence. This is a song that drips with lust and need, and despite the huge, stadium-ready sound, it is a song that sounds strangely intimate, and that’s all down to Hutchence.
/I Want My Country Back
Released the year after the Brexit vote – one that has only entrenched division and made inequality worse, thus far – She Makes War released a furious track that kicked back against the right-wing press cheerleading. Also wanting “her country back”, but in a rather different way to the Brexiteers, who still seem to be aiming for some kind of unattainable, mythical past, Laura Kidd wants a fairer press, realistic information to voters, compassion and caring for those that actually need help. Sadly, four years on from the release of this – and with a deeply divisive Budget last week that seems only destined to entrench the gains of those who already have enough – Absolutely Fucking Nothing has changed. So, we still want better. We still want a future that benefits all. Apparently that’s too much to ask.
/What Do You Want From Me?
/Music for Pleasure
Apparently a going concern again – presumably between the touring Peter Hook does with his band The Light these days – Monaco are, lest we forget, best known for one glorious pop song. That song was What Do You Want From Me?, a song full of Hooks – both singalong and basslines – as Peter Hook (reputedly) tore into his ex-Caroline Aherne, thus making it yet another song where an artist airs the dirty laundry of their private life in the form of a top-twenty hit, demanding answers of what else he could have done to make things better. Still, fantastic song, not so great story.
/All I Need
AIR’s Moon Safari remains an extraordinary record. One that managed to reinvent the ideal of “easy listening”, in some respects, making a gentle, beautiful piece of work that seemed to be weightless – while occasionally baring teeth, too, to stop things becoming too soporific. One of the key moments on the album, though, was where they looked beyond their own world and invited someone else in – in the form of vocalist Beth Hirsch, whose delicate, wavering vocals on All I Need suggested a desperate desire to move on, to shed a load from the past, and want to be someone new entirely. Sometimes it’s a real need of that fresh start.
/Give Me What I Need
/Sex & Death
Rodney Orpheus is clear what he wants on this 1993 track from this somewhat underappreciated band. He wants to get the fuck off this planet, explore space and find new frontiers. Which in 1993, was a laudable aim, but in 2021? Sign me the fuck up. This song – from a band who never really settled on one particular style, instead always looking to evolve and refine their sound, feels very much of the time musically. A guitar-industrial-rock backing that is perfectly capable and providing a solid backing to the growled vocal delivery. Looking forward to the upcoming new material from CX.
/I Don’t Need The City
Oh boy, how this song uncannily resonates this year. Sascha Mario Klein wrote this song sixteen years ago, a song of weariness and sadness (something that Neuroticfish had an incredible knack of turning into epic, skyscraping anthems), and a need to escape. I don’t know which city he was writing about at the time, but I’ve experienced the feelings described in this song a number of times – where the city you live in becomes suffocating, a place that causes stress and upset, and you fail to see anything good in it. This past year, though, has been weird. It has been reported upon endlessly how many people have left the large cities (and particularly London), looking for a quieter life – and critically, amid lockdown, more space – and you have to wonder how things might change in the longer term as a result. Has all the urban planning to accomodate population growth been in vain after all, as commuting for many becomes unnecessary, replaced by flexible working, and we realise we didn’t need the city as much as the city needs us?
/I Want A Dog
Many readers of this that are also friends of mine will know full well that this song resonates deeply with both my wife and I. We celebrate our sixteenth anniversary (and fifth wedding anniversary) this coming Friday, and for a considerable part of that time, we’ve been pining to have our own dog. We’ve dogsat for friends, we’ve hung out with our friend’s dogs, we’ve been to Crufts (three times), countless other dog shows, been in touch with breed associations. The only thing we’ve never really had is the right home to have a dog. Hopefully, sometime soon, that will change, and we’ll finally be able to welcome the small-ish breed of dog we’ve long decided that we want (and is the most suitable for us!) – the Glen of Imaal Terrier.
In the meantime, I can marvel at the fact that once upon a time, Neil Tennant wrote a song (on one of the Pet Shop Boys best-selling albums, no less) simply about wanting a dog. Judging on the litany of photos of Tennant with dogs since, I suspect he got his wish eventually, as will we.