Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 278
Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
Isn’t amazing how an artist can recapture a moment for you, within a glimpse so vivid you’re reflected back in song? It happened again, yesterday, a song took me, transported me back to my not so distant past. Hearing the music of David Gray always reminds me of one particular night living in New Orleans. It was during my first Mardi Gras and my soon to be ex-girlfriend dropped me off alone at my apartment. I put on my favorite CD White Ladder and I listened to David Gray on repeat as I tripped in the darkness. All I remember were the beautiful spirit angels like guardians floating around me on my way to puke my guts out in the bathroom. It seemed like when I came back to bed from throwing up, David Gray was singing “♫ Can’t tell the bottle from the mountain top ♫” from “We’re Not Right.” Every few hours, like clockworks, when I would fall back, from my bathroom sprints, under the covers I would hear Gray crooning, “♫ Can’t tell the bottle from the mountain top. ♫” Gray’s clear voice became a sign that my chemical excesses were quickly leading me to a palace of wisdom.
“Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” was one of the songs that healed me back to sanity; This one from White Ladder helped me to pick up the memories scattered from that wild and crazy night. David Gray song that took me back was his magnificent cover of Mark Almond and Soft Cell’s 80’s electro pop gem “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.” Originally Almond wrote this about a former boyfriend who would not come out for him. Gray turns Almond’s synth heartbreak into a deeper acoustic anthem about poverty & loss of love as David discussed when he said, “Sometimes you sing a song and nothing really happens, but other times you get right into it. It’s as [“Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”] that one was written for me. It seemed to take on a life of its own. And it seemed fitting with the whole mood of the record. It’s a goodbye to that style of things ‘cos that track’s more like what I’ve been doing for the past five years.”
David Gray makes, “Say Hello” into an instant classic by inserting lyrics from two Van Morrison songs into coda, as writer Michael Heatley explained when he wrote, ““Say Hell, Wave Goodbye” saw him drop two classic Van Morrison songs, “Into the Mystic” and “Madame George” into the lyrics. He must have passed the notoriously hard to please Irishman’s test because the credits reveal that this was down with [Van Morrison’s] permission.” David himself talked about the influence of Van Morrison when he said, “And somewhere along the line the penny dropped. I went through my “Into The Mystic” phase and “Astral Weeks” just opened up for me. I can think of no greater moment of inspiration in popular music history. It’s got the daftest ideas, like an out of time drummer; it’s all in the charm of it. I don’t think Van Morrison was in charge of it, it just all exploded around him. From start to finish, there’s no other record like it.”
When I hear “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” I remember it all from my life in New Orleans: the long walks home alone, the crying, the spilled drinks, the falling, the loneliness, the sickness, the love, the fear and everything in between. New Orleans was one of my favorite cities I lived in and I like the fact that it kind of literally kick my ass and almost killed me. I made it. I survived and as “Say Hello” climaxes into Gray’s vivid “Into The Mystic” coda, it never fails to inspire a joyful grin. David Gray’s cover is the soundtrack to my first year in New Orleans. So much had faded and blurred due to my fuzzy memory, I may remember half—but on a good day thanks to “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” I still relive it all.