Monday, August 4, 2014

DB's Song of the Day (day 216): "AGE OF CONSENT" (1983) New Order

I hesitated posting about today’s song after looking it up on wikipedia. Seems the song has been used for such nefarious purposes as the soundtrack for Sofia Coppola’s godawful (but for Schwartzman) Marie Antoinette AND for a Target commercial AND for an ATT wireless commercial AND for an iPad commercial. WTF?

So what is it that makes today’s song so frigging commercial? Is it because everyone associates New Order with clubbing their brains out in the Eighties and, for all I know, in perpetuity, as if all clustered in a club called Purgatory? Could it be that New Order has recognition factor due to the fact that the sound they laid down on this song percolated its way through the industry at the time? Even The Cure kinda cribbed it. Is it because the title is sorta sexy—like “age of consent” (I’m hearing Beavis and Butthead smirking and chuckling in the background) makes us think of dewy youth hitting the point where it’s legal—finally!—to do the deed? I’m flummoxed if I know, pilgrim.

I wish I could say I feel like I’m in good company in choosing to post about the song, but, in fact, I feel tainted and besmirched. Like I should just put myself through a carwash, pronto. These are grimy times, and no mistaking.

For me, this arch little number takes me back to when the Talking Heads ruled but were teetering—I mean, they couldn’t get no bigger after “Burning Down the House” and the Stop Making Sense tour, in 1983—and R.E.M. was still up-and-coming. New Order resurrected itself from the ashen abbatoir where the dreams of Joy Division went to die and then burst out with this peppy pop chill-pill on Power, Corruption and Lies. I got bit by the New Order bug a bit there, c. 1983-88, when the playing out of post-punk New Wave (soooo self-serving to act like punk made that much of an ideological difference) was, it seemed, the only game going (where have all papa’s heroes gone?)—speaking of long, withdrawing roar (as I was yesterday with that there tide that never returned). It’s all going in one direction, anyway.

The song—with those great overlaying strums at the end and the offbeat beats that filter in and even that soaring synth—is my favorite New Order track, so I guess I’ll have to go for it, despite the company it keeps these days. And, what’s more, I like how playfully morose it is, or morosely playful. I tend to be that way myself and this song gets it. Consider: And I'm not the kind that likes to tell you / Just what I want to do / I'm not the kind that needs to tell you / Just what you want me to. If that attitude doesn’t define being a twentysomething guy, then what does?

I never wanted to say what I was really thinking about doing—both should be understood: what I didn't say and why I didn't. And as for what she wants to hear? Or what I should need to tell her? Zip. And then there’s that great line: You’re not the kind that needs to tell me / About the birds and the bees. Stow it, sister, I already get the idea. Then that great moment when Bernard Sumner (what a non-rock-guy name!) offers “I’m not the kind that needs to tell you – oh oh,” with that high pitched little “oh oh” that sounds so coy, so cool.

I guess what I’m saying is that this song takes me back to my pre-25 years. Youth is so smug because, hell, it’s young. And that’s about the best you can say for it. It’s that “feeling one’s oats” sense I get from this song—it’s not quite a fully fledged put-down song, but it’s getting there. Like when he says he got “your message in full a few days ago” and “now that I’ve actually heard it, you’re going to regret.” And that reminds me how much the sneering, sarcastic vitriol of Elvis Costello was one of my mainstays, those days.

There’s a lot of score-settling going on in songs of that time. Or take a notion like: “Do you find this happens all the time / Crucial point one day becomes a crime.” A lot of psychic battleground territory is enclosed in that. Like: there was “this thing” that was crucial to the “me and you” of things and now it’s verboten. Off the table. Grounds for dissolution. Maybe you can imagine what something like that might be . . . . Anyway, now I’m thinking of “Perfect Example.” Ah, the Eighties. They’re beating out the Nineties and Aughts on here if for no other reason than the lure of remembered youth.

I’ve lost you I’ve lost you I’ve lost you I’ve lost you I’ve lost you

No comments: