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Saturday, December 17, 2005

I don't know what to do, don't know what to do 


In my latest example proving that I am not trendy, I will admit that as I type this, I know next to nothing about the band Coldplay. But I do know a little bit about Kraftwerk. And those of you who think you know where this is going, you don't. I don't know where this is going yet.

But I know where it's been.

Unlike some of my readers, I was alive in the mid 1970s. And I was listening to music in the 1970s. I think that WEAM was gone by that time, but I was listening to something or another - it may have been WPGC, or it may have been something else. Sometimes I get confused regarding the 1970s songs I was listening to at the time, and the 1970s songs that I didn't hear until the 1980s (e.g. "Baby's on Fire"). But I do remember that in the 1970s, somewhere between "Knock Three Times" and "Knock on Wood," there was a short instrumental song that penetrated the American charts. Actually, it wasn't an instrumental, but the few words were sung in German so they didn't count. At this time, my German was even more limited than it is today, so the only word that I could pick out was "Autobahn." (Despite my recollections, the lyric "Ev'rybody crash their auto" does not appear in the original song.)

Several years later, when I was buying cassettes (buy in quantity, as a famous salesman said), I bought the cassette for the Kraftwerk album Autobahn. It was then that I owned the non-edited version of the song "Autobahn" (the American single was a splice and dice thing for the Ronco set, don't you know).

But this was not the only Kraftwerk cassette that I ever owned.

In the early 1980s, Kraftwerk released an album called Computer Welt. I knew absolutely nothing about that album, and didn't even realize it existed until a couple of decades later. However, I was extremely familiar with the Kraftwerk album Computer World, the English-language version of that same album. The album had some completely ridiculous concepts, such as those expressed by the song "Home Computer":


I program my home computer
Beam myself into the future



Silly Germans, to think that the home computer would become important, and that we'd actually be programming them. Now excuse me for a moment while I make sure that I specified my hr and em commands properly in the previous paragraph.

Anyway, in between songs about home computers, pocket calculators, Interpol, Deutsche Bank, FBI, and Scotland Yard (plus that charming little ditty "It's More Fun to Compute," which may have resurfaced in a Devo video collection), there's my favorite song from that cassette, "Computer Love." Yes, this is another of Kraftwerk's crazy ideas, that computers could somehow be involved in love. Heh.

Yet the true musical power of that song came toward the end, after the monotonic verses followed by the "Computer love" choruses, all over Kraftwerk's electronicness. But as the song neared its conclusion, Kraftwerk did something completely unexpected. They...uh...well, they rocked a little. Sitting at the synths, the Deutsche boyz took a solo or two, over the hypnotic synthbeat. Granted, Numan had preceded them in this, but when the synth masters showed that the machines could truly rock, somewhere Alan Wilder was listening and taking notes.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, as I was driving in my car (I feel safest of all) down old US Route 60, known today as Mission Boulevard. I had been searching for the German album Computer Welt but had been unsuccessful in doing so, yet as I was listening to Indie 103.1 (which isn't indie, but is at 103.1) they were playing my favorite Kraftwerk song. With one startling exception - that wasn't Ralf or Florian or any member of Kraftwerk singing - it was some other guy, singing new lyrics. But then things returned to normal, and Kraftwerk sang the "Computer love" chorus that I know and love. But wait, that other guy started singing again. And so on and so forth (usw.). Then the deejay (non-hung) started talking about music mashups, and saying "Now you know where Coldplay got their tune - it was from the Kraftwerk song 'Computer Love.'"

So this evening I was pausing my repeat of a Manchester United football game and happened to realize that I could watch some of Austin City Limits (with this band Coldplay that I knew nothing about) without having to wait until 2 in the morning. So I'm looking at it (was that Michael Stipe?) and I hear a musical introduction that results in my pressing the "record" button.

Nice song.

You know how I said "I don't know where this is going yet"? That's because, even as I type this, I don't know the name of the Coldplay song in question, or much of anything about it. So if you'll just hold on for a moment, I'll switch to my other browser window and do a bit of online research.

Wait here.

I'll be back.

...

...

(dum dum dum)

...

...

(dum dum dum)

...

...

(hey, anyone hear any new Krystal Fernandez news?)

...

...

...

I'm back. From amazon.co.uk:


Coldplay were faced with a difficult choice as they set to work on X&Y. They could either follow Radiohead’s lead and use their enormous success and financial security as a springboard to a brave experimental future--or they could play it safe, repeat the tricks used on the 16 million-selling A Rush Of Blood To The Head...


Oh, great. They've sold as many albums as Peter Frampton, and I don't know a thing about them.


...and consolidate their position as one of the biggest bands in the world. In truth, despite the Tetris-inspired artwork and presence of teaser track "Talk"--which steals its melody line from electro-futurists Kraftwerk’s gorgeous "Computer Love"--X&Y is more the latter than the former.


Talk? Heh. More more more:


Coldplay 'Talk'

The new single released 19th December 2005

‘Talk’ is the third single to be taken from Coldplay’s multi-platinum third album ‘X&Y’. Borrowing the riff from Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer Love’, the utterly hypnotic ‘Talk’ is driven by Will Champion’s insistent, metronomic beats and Jonny Buckland’s ethereal chiming guitars. ‘Talk’ is available as a two-track CD, a DVD and 7 inch....



Now let's compare lyrically. Here's the original:


Computer love
Computer love
Another lonely night
Stare at the TV screen
I don't know what to do
I need a rendezvous
Computer love
Computer love
I call this number
For a data date
I don't know what to do
I need a rendezvous
Computer love
Computer love



And the newbie:


Oh brother I can't, I can't get through
I've been trying hard to reach you, cause I don't know what to do
Oh brother I can't believe it's true
I'm so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you
Oh I wanna talk to you
You can take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done

Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?
Tell me how do you feel?
Well I feel like they're talking in a language I don't speak
And they're talking it to me

So you take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or a write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done
Do something that's never been done

So you don't know were you're going, and you wanna talk
And you feel like you're going where you've been before
You tell anyone who'll listen but you feel ignored
Nothing's really making any sense at all
Let's talk, let's ta-a-alk
Let's talk, let's ta-a-alk



It's progress, you know.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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