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I suppose that the net sum of all of Currie’s lyrical admonishments was an impression that the pursuit of love would  yield prolonged misery, and yet would somehow still seem worth the trouble. To be sure, he never actually said it was worth it. But when you follow a guy’s lyrical career and fifteen years later he’s still talking about the same stuff, you make the logical leap.

When you go in with that tempered expectation, though, it becomes a very different kind of game. I may be admitting too much to say that before long, the breakups felt more romantic than the relationships, in the same way that scars become symbols of glory even when you lost the fight.

Maybe I was just bored. Maybe mid-’80s Glasgow and early-whatever-we’re-agreeing-that-decade-was-called suburban America weren’t all that different. Not that I went out looking for new scars artificially like some dudes do with tattoos. But again I cite the kid with the severed arm.

Sierra_Leone_civil_1518568aThere’s one.

So I guess when you stack anything I’ve done in my entire life up to this little cherub, the stack doesn’t reach half his height. And really we’re all just molecules floating endlessly and aimlessly through space.

But we Western young men for our part do grow bored quite easily, and hence rock ‘n roll, hence punk rock, hence post-punk rock, hence this blog.

The few more romantic tunes on the “lower-case days” album (because, you see, it’s “del Amitri” then and only then) had a sort of capitulating acceptance of nature to their lyrics. “Hammering Heart,” as I previously said, proclaimed, “Hey love is stupid, but I’m not bigger than it.”

Similar in hypothesis but different in tone were “Former Owner” and “Deceive Yourself (In Ignorant Heaven).” The former (ha, that’s neat) laments the imperviousness of people’s baggage, with a simple metaphor that, I feel, is really quite good. “The former owner always keeps the keys.”

Lyrics:

So who was first? Obviously not me.
She’s locked up inside herself
And I can’t get anything free
So won’t somebody tell me please
Why the former owner always keeps the keys?

There’s no bubbles to burst
No bursting out crying nor dying of thirst
She’s utterly tied to somebody else
And it seems he got there first
And no, I’m not untying
The reins around her neck that she feels
And I won’t try to prise out of her the truth anymore
When she lies about the things that she sees
Because the former owner always keeps the keys
There’s no calling “Come here, you’re necessary to me”
There’s no excitement in her face when I implore
“Corrupt me and confess to me some more”
And when we hear trees falling
Or see people disappearing
Her emotions won’t be reached or released
Because the former owner is keeping the keys

Like a ticket inspector running for a bus
Irony’s revenge surrounds us
And it’s ironic that he promised you, he’d never let you go
When he’s left you used-up and disturbed
And I said, “Just as the early bird catches the worm
The early cat catches the bird”
But that former owner is keeping his word

The opening line has an uncharacteristic, leaning-again-the-windowsill sort of wistfulness to it that immediately sets up the song as one of the more vulnerable moments of, hm, I guess Currie’s entire career. But particularly of this record. Absent is the confrontational sinisterness found throughout the majority of it. But still, Currie seems to conclude that despite being aware of the misfortune that will befall him, it is a natural inevitability to which he must succumb. “Just as the early bird catches the worm, the early cat catches the bird.”

“Deceive Yourself (in Ignorant Heaven)” continues that capitulating theme with its title alone. If it weren’t for the title and one curious middle verse, this would come off as the album’s one and only true love song (which would remain a rarity throughout the singer’s entire career). But as it stands, it fits right in with the rest of the album. “This is self-deception; but it’s heaven all the same.”

Lyrics:

The World 
and the surrounding stars 
might change completely in the space of an hour
but not an eclipse of the sky nor a colliding car 
will turn me back now that I’ve come this far. 
Not a shotgun blast nor a shooting star 
will bring her down from her stubborn tower. 

It’s a kind of madness, it’s a kind of sin 
To live in the state of mind I’ve been living in 
Her face imprinted on my sight 
Her voice resounding in my skull at night. 
If there is a living goddess on Earth 
It must be her from the heaven highlife 
It takes this girl to realise what you’re worth 
and I’m worth nothing if she’s worth more than my life. 

But there’s more to me than simple devotion 
I won’t just crawl at her feet and utter a plea 
And if she refused I wouldn’t walk into the ocean 
Just because my world was left all out at sea. 

So it was in this cafe when we eventually met 
And I wished I had sunglasses or smoked cigarettes 

The World 
and the surrounding stars 
They changed completely in the space of an hour 
When over the table and two cups of tea 
She told me she felt the same way about me. 
And not an eclipse of the sky nor a colliding car 
could have shaken our attention from each other’s face 
As we both stepped down from our stubborn towers 
We jumped into the ignorant heaven that is the lover’s place.

Tonally, both songs fall most fully under Currie’s much-later description of this early work as “complete teenage diary stuff,” while I feel that description doesn’t do justice to the album as a whole–that or I don’t give teenage diaries enough credit. I do feel there’s a sort of reverse wisdom or insightfulness we have when we’re young and fresh, because we simply think and feel more intensely before becoming complacent to replace these experiences little by little with drink and convenience. I guess that’s the upside of being young and bored.

I suppose young Currie probably intended this album’s lyrics to be criticisms of human nature, but there’s a sort of zen-like positivity to their frankness. Embrace the suffering, because we all must suffer. Indeed.

Afterthoughts:

And it’s ironic that he promised you he’d never let you go
When he left you used-up and disturbed”

Is it? This line always bugged me.

There’s a sort of momentum to the rhyming and imagery in “Deceive Yourself” that I’ve always liked a lot.

“But not an eclipse of the sky nor a colliding car
will turn me back now that I’ve come this far.
Not a shotgun blast nor a shooting star
will bring her down from her stubborn tower.”

. . . .

“And not an eclipse of the sky nor a colliding car 
could have shaken our attention from each other’s face 
As we both stepped down from our stubborn towers 
We jumped into the ignorant heaven that is the lover’s place.”

I also love that the final line and the music that accompanies are so climactic. “We’ve arrived.” Not half bad for a bunch of bored kids.