Song Of The Day 10/18/2014: The English Beat - "Save It For Later"



You Pick The Artist II: Kirsten Bean gave me the English Beat. I picked what's perhaps their best-known song, at least in the U.S. Sometimes the public is right.

I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the time I interviewed the Beat's leader Dave Wakeling, which I believe was in 2008, either slightly before or after the last big snow storm than Seattle had. It was before, I think. Before you ask, I don't think the interview's up anywhere. It was difficult to transcribe because we talked for close to two hours.

Unless my promising career in music journalism somehow gets magically revived by an online editor with equal parts bravery, taste and pity, my interview with Dave Wakeling will probably go down as the best one I ever had. (Sorry, Blag from the Dwarves, but you'll always be second.) For one thing, I knew the Beat's material quite well, and though I didn't let on in the interview Because I'm A Professional, the fact is I had an audience with one of my musical heroes from my youth.

It happened in the couple of hours before the Beat played a really impressive show at the Showbox in downtown Seattle. Talking to Dave about the roots of a lot of his songs was almost too easy, because the music that helped define my youth, he'll tell you, came straight out of his as a blue-collar kid from Birmingham, with a quietly tough-skinned but ultimately compassionate dad. Remind me sometime to tell you about the origins of "Click Click." It's one of the most remarkable stories I've ever heard. Maybe when I finally close this blog down it'll be the last thing I write, but it needs to be preserved.

"Save It For Later" held a lot of mystery for me as a kid. What was it about? Who is he talking to? What did some of the most impenetrable lines -- "Two dozen other dirty lovers/Must be a sucker for it," "Black air and seven seas all rotting through," "Sometimes I don't try I just, now now now now now now now now now now now" -- mean? Turns out the song was nothing more than Dave taking some of the random thoughts of a teenage boy, specifically himself, disconnected and anguished, and strung them together to tell some kind of story. I don't know if he knew what the story was himself. And if he did, you know, he certainly wasn't under any obligation to tell me.

It's like the thing Bill Murray whispers to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Lost In Translation -- you can guess and conjecture what it was, but whatever it was, it was universal in that it's really none of our business. Yet we have clues: It probably wasn't perfunctory, and it was coded in intimacy. "Save It For Later" has a lot of desire and frustration to it, and that may be all we need to understand.

Well, on that note, thanks to Mat, Quitty, Andy, Richard, Mare, Rich and Kirsten for helping out with suggestions this week. We'll do this again. April, I think. Here's more English Beat.

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