Archive for the ‘synthesizer’ Tag

[50/50] Song #14: “I Ran”

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Song #14: “I Ran (So Far Away)” — Flock of Seagulls (1982)

DebutSeagullsI’ve really enjoyed the rise of Future Islands, a Baltimore-by-way-of-North Carolina band that recently hit critical mass — if for no other reason than I always feel like I’m back in college when I hear them. The time I first saw them, I jokingly described them as A Flock of Seagulls… if Tom Waits had been the lead singer. While Future Islands’ style has since become distinctively their own, they still sound like a they just came through a wormhole from the 1980s.

Hopefully they will avoid the fate of A Flock of Seagulls, better remembered (and mocked) now for their hair than the droll synthpop of their New Wave hits. “Space Age Love Song” and “Wishing (I had a photograph of you)” ensured they wouldn’t be one-hit wonders, but so what — it is “I Ran” that will be played again and again (as it was just about every hour on MTV in 1982). My freshman year at IUP the local automated radio station played it so religiously you could set your clocks by it, and there wasn’t a dorm you could walk through without hearing it echo down the hallway.

As with Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” I could listen to the bionic reverb that makes up the backbone of the song on an infinite loop. Forget about the hypnotically-bad haircut; “I Ran” is mesmerizing all by itself.

Bonus North Carolina connection: After their last hit in 1984, A Flock of Seagulls went into a slow spiral over the next decade or so. The breakup, when it came, was painful, and created a rift between the two brothers at the core of the group. They reportedly didn’t talk to each other for years. It turned out that Alister Score, the drummer, now lives just north of here, one county over. When lead singer Mike Score formed a new version of the band for an ’80s oldies tour in 2008 with Naked Eyes and Human League (cripes it hurt to type that line), and played at nearby Koka Booth, he invited his brother to sit in and play the drums for “I Ran.” Awwww.

[50/50] Comedy #16: “Educating Rita”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Comedy #16: “Educating Rita” (1983)

old-books-on-shelfAnother bittersweet movie disguised as a romantic comedy — fortunately, its about two people in love with literature, and fortunately, for the audience, they are played by Michael Caine and firecracker Julie Walters. Set at a Liverpool University, it follows working-class hairdresser Susan as she desperately seeks to improve her life and escape her blue collar fate. Her enthusiasm re-energizes her tutor, a failed writer who drifts through academia drunk and lost and yet, because it is Michael-fucking-Caine, with wit drolly intact. Originally a two-character play, the movie struggles to move beyond the stage and works best when it is just the two protagonists sitting in a room verbally jousting.

This is one of my brother’s favorites, in no small part because of the bold step the producers took in giving the film an electronic soundtrack, composed entirely on synthesizer. It is unique to be sure, if now somewhat dated. Still, “Educating Rita” is one of the best movies about the joy of learning, what it takes to change your direction in life, and what you both gain — and lose — in making the effort.

You could put it in your Netflix queue, or just start watching it now — someone’s posted the whole thing on YouTube.