#31 Songs (10): A Song About the Weather
‘Winter Sun’, by The Blue Aeroplanes, from Spitting Out Miracles
As many who’ve been involved in it will attest, The Blue Aeroplanes is Gerard Langley’s group. But Langley doesn’t originate the music. Rather, according to Richard Bell:
Gerard taped everything on a portable cassette walkman, all the jamming. He’d come back to us with an isolated riff and say “repeat that bit 8 times”! He was very much the director of the music, making the music fit the poems he had prepared. Although he did not play an instrument he had a strong sense of musical innovation or cliche, and steered us towards the former.(*)
And although Langley is the director, there’s been a long and welcome tradition in the band of allowing other members to write and perform their own songs. Having a sung vocal in the middle of a Blue Aeroplanes album makes a big difference; having lyrics with rhymes likewise. The sung material takes less concentration and is often more straightforward lyrically. It can serve as interlude, as prelude, and as a reminder of what’s so special about the other material.
An early example is ‘Winter Sun’ on Spitting Out Miracles, with lyrics written and sung by Nick Jacobs, guitarist in the band from Bop Art through to this album. Unlike some of the later examples, especially those by Rodney Allen, Jacobs’s lyrics here are almost as oblique as Langley’s. At the start you might think that the winter sun in literal, though you’d have to be unusually pale to catch the sun in the winter time. The idea that ‘every detail cast a long shadow’ suggests that it’s a metaphor: a winter sun makes even the tiniest of things take on giant proportions. The winter sun here is the lover so dominating the that addressee was in danger of being lost in him or her. (As with many Aeroplanes songs, both genders are possible.)
Musically it’s spiky and angular; though there’s a folk tinge to the vocals and other aspects of the arrangement, the basic guitar riff could be new wave riff from the late 70s.
You’ve got an image that you want to project
But it’s no damn use if you can’t protect it.
Get out from under what’s holding you down,
If that’s your best friend, don’t stick around.
Shed a silent, private tear
Then you opened the door and left the room.
You feel guilty and you feel bad
But a measure of sadness is only natural.
Caught yourself in the winter sun,
The light was bright and the angle it was cruel.
You lost yourself in your lover, lost yourself and you lost another.
Hard to explain, naturally.