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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 80
Thurs. April 18, 2013

“Forever Live & Die”
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

1986

“♫ I
never knew/
why / you
make me
want to
cry
♫”

When I was in high school, my older hermano used to pick me up on Thursday’s and we’d go record store shopping in San Antonio. Even though, my older bro introduced me to The Cure, Depeche Mode and New Order—he’s choice cassette to hear on our vinyl hunting excursions was The Best of OMD. When I would ask him why he would listen to OMD over and over again, my brother would reply “’cause the ladies like them—a lot.” At that time, even though he was just as awkwardly music geeky like I was, my brother was older and my resident expert on the fairer sex. My hermano would meet future paramours and dance with them in San Antonio night clubs. After a while, hearing them in the movie Pretty in Pink and in his car— even though the name Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark translated into a euphemism for sex, OMD became the first soundtrack of my teenage heartbreak.

I know I wasn’t the only one. How many of people born and raised in the nineteen eighties had OMD as songs that reflected the disintegration of puppy dog love? “If You Leave,” “So in Love, ” “Dreaming” and my personal favorite, because singer Paul Humphreys actually crooned in my vocal range, “Forever Live & Die” was an OMD song that I could actually sing on key. When asked by Telegraph magazine why Paul only sang on a handful of songs, Humphreys replied, “No, people have this impression that the only songs I wrote were the ones I sang, but it wasn’t that way at all. Usually, I sang the song because I’d just written it and Andy wasn’t around and I needed to hear a vocal on it, and because Andy wasn’t around I would do it myself and it would just have a quality to it that we liked, so I would stick to being the leads vocals on it.”

Since, OMD’s band mate Andy McCluskey would usually take the vocal reigns, Paul explained how he came to sing on my favorite OMD song when he said, “No. With “Forever Live and Die” for example, And had gone away for a few days and I decided to go into the studio and I threw down a track that needed a lead vocal on it, so I did it myself. Had Andy been there, he would have sung the lead on it.”

OMD like Depeche Mode, The Cure and New Order all had videos on M-TV that gave them notoriety even in San Antonio, when I grew up. Paul talked about OMD’s philosophy of music videos when he said, “When we started out, video was just in its infancy and directors wanted us to be Federico Fellini cramming a bunch of random scenes into 4 minutes. Having no acting ability whatsoever, you ended up looking like a prat. Take the “Talking Loud and Clear” video, we never really lived that down. I couldn’t go to my local pub for at least a year after that video.” Paul actually admitted that “Forever Live & Die” was his favorite OMD video, explaining, “It captured us not doing stupid things like in other videos. It captured us doing what we do, which is being a band instead of trying to be actors.”

After Paul left the band, he talked about the dynamics of OMD with his songwriting partner Andy McClusky when he said, “I respect Andy a lot, and I think he’s a great song writer and he’s still one of my favorite lyricists, in fact, I think he’s a genius lyricist. I think back in the early days is what gave us success. I would come up with these great melodies, and he would come up with these great lyrics, and I always respected him for that. We gave each other what the other didn’t have. I would come up with keyboard melodies, and he would always be able to put lyrics to it and that was what was great about us.”

1980’s electro-pop may have been ruled by Depeche Mode, The Cure and New Order, but the timeless melody of “Forever Live & Die and other hits from OMD will always be the soundtrack of my heart aching teenage years. “Forever Live & Die” is my favorite OMD song because Paul crafted a song that reflects all the convoluted second thoughts we tell ourselves over and over inside our mind attempting to discover how a high school love, once scratched eternally like a vinyl kiss, could actually fade to black? Aging New Waver go back to the moment during the school dance when OMD would play and it made you want to reach for the one you’ve been dreaming me. Relive the songs, the memories and the heartache— Not just a flashback favorite, anymore, OMD’s “Forever Live & Die” is definitely a pop song for the ages.

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