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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 26
Wed, Feb 20, 2013

“Candleland [featuring Elizabeth Fraser]”
Ian McCulloch

1989

“♫ In
between the
penance/ that
you carry by your
side/ with the
make belief & the
miracles/ that only
come alive/ in
Candleland
♫”

In 2001 Bjork said, “I’d always wanted to work with music boxes but it was waiting for the right occasion. I’d been collecting them and stuff. The main thing was that I wanted to write my own songs in music boxes.” Twelve years earlier, in 1989, former Echo and the Bunnymen vocalist bested Bjork’s creative endeavor. Ian McCulloch himself must saw into the future because with Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser, “Ian crafted “Candleland—” into the ultimate music box jingle turned into a tender vintage pop gem.

But “Candleland” isn’t your mother’s music box single; think more if Leonard Cohen penned this lovely torch song anthem. It’s not just about the music; Ian’s lyrics are more poetic and powerful than you’re average music box song. I would love to own the music box that plays “Candleland.” Ian McCulloch described the title track— “Candleland,” as “I used to get that that feeling a lot when I was a kid, almost like a flashback, say certain smells, that transport you back for a split second. Candleland was about that place and every now and then I get taken back to. Candleland is the place where you go to shed your skin every time it needs shedding. It’s a place where you go to change, and it’s a sad place as well. It’s one of the most lyrically honest and least obscure things I’ve ever written.”

When asked why he asked Cocteau Twins Elizabeth Fraser to sing on “Candleland” Ian said, “I wanted another voice on “Candleland”, but I didn’t know who, [producer Ray Shulman] said think of somebody who I like, I wanted a female voice and Liz was the only one. Bjork has a fantastic voice but for “Candleland” Liz was perfect.” In case you were wondering if Fraser was the inspiration for “Candleland” you would be wrong, as Ian discussed with Melody Maker’s Simon Reynolds when asked why he never wrote more love songs for the Bunnymen, Mac replied, “The girls love that even more. They love you not singing about them, because they think you’re aloof. People when they listen to music, they like a certain amount of mystery, whether it’s sexual; mystery or whatever. But through all the songs I’ve written, [Ian’s wife] Lorraine or Lorraine’s influence is in all of them. Through all the fluctuating weirdness’s that go on in my head, there’s still Lorraine. She’s a really strong force in my life, even though she thinks she isn’t. I respect her more now than ever. I do it songs more than anything. I can’t buy her flowers every day.”

We need to thank Lorraine for the gift of “Candleland.” It’s a place of innocence, a palace of recollection, wherever we imagine it’s the same exact place, beyond time and wonder, where things irreplaceable appear within the beautiful lyrical canvas of Ian McCulloch’s “Candleland.”

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