tremble clef

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Prefab Sprout, "Desire As (Acoustic Version)" (2007)

The new, seven-minute acoustic version of "Desire As" -- included on the bonus disc accompanying the remastered edition of Steve McQueen -- no longer begins with its most famous lines: "I've got six things on my mind/You're no longer one of them."

There is, instead, a two-minute long extended guitar passage. And then, Paddy tells us: "They were the best times, the harvest years/With jam to lace the bread/So goodness, goodness knows why you'd throw it to the birds/You mark the good things, play the heartstrings, play them one by one." Although he swallows it somewhat, a pronoun has been changed from the original (which went, "goodness knows why I'd throw it to the birds"), and the final line added. Paddy the spurner, from the original, is now the jilted.

When we get to the well-known lines, after that opening verse, they, kept in their original incarnation, therefore don't make complete sense. Shouldn't they, after all, now proclaim: "You've got six things on your mind/I'm no longer one of them"?

Or they now make a different kind of sense, perhaps. Maybe, like her, who threw their love "to the birds," he too has changed his mind. "Desire," as the chorus goes on to remind us, is "a sylph-figured creature who changes her mind." It affects every one of us; it is indeed independent of us, not so much exercised or experienced by us, as it is a figure who inhabits us. Or maybe he now says -- pretends -- that he too no longer thinks of her, as a kind of vengeance for the fact that she has left him. But who's to say that those lines ever made sense? I've got six things on my mind -- you're no longer one of them -- except when I sing about you? Can you really ever tell someone that you no longer think of them? Doesn't that utterance always disprove itself? Whether the new version of "Desire As" imagines that he who was rejected comes to also feel the whims of Desire, or whether it demonstrates that the only way we can cope with the incomprehensible workings of Desire is by pretending we can -- and both reactions perpetuate the cycle -- the song turns those lines away from being cruel dogma, and towards being filled with infinite mystery and unfathomableness.


  • THANKS!!!
    I had not listened to any prefab sprout for about a year, which is strange as they were "my band" when i was in junior high. They had a extremely minor hit with cars and girls (one of their songs i dont like) in France and i managed to get hands on all their albums on cassette. My favourite Prefab sprout album changes all the time. Tonight i will listen to swoon...

    By Blogger Arnault, at 9:21 PM  

  • Indeed, I wouldn't have thought Prefab made any headway in France. I like "Cars and Girls," but then again I like all songs that give their vocals that oozing sound effect. I think my fave Prefab album is Jordan, but I'm afraid I find Swoon almost unlistenable.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 1:44 AM  

  • Swoon is definitely my favourite. And the very reason you probably find it unlistenable, I find it amazing! But ain't that the good thing about quality bands? I can remember it being so different to ANYTHING around...

    Desire As OMIGAAAAAAAD! Gorgeous!

    By Blogger Phil, at 3:33 AM  

  • Steve McQueen (aka TWG) is my fave - I just got this remaster too. Have a big post that I've been stalling on because it requires a pic de moi at the time I got into it! (So conceited, it's true).

    I like the acoustic CD a lot, btw. And of course it's good to hear some Bach not barbershop every now and then.

    By Blogger xolondon, at 7:15 PM  

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