Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 167
Mon. July 15, 2013
“Untitled [”Bony”: The Stanbridge demo]”
After trying to create Beck’s Midnight Vultures and churning out electronic pop fuzz of Head Music, instead; In 2001, Suede was looking to move away from their techno like fiasco and into a more stripped down approach. After lead singer Brett Anderson’s much maligned electronica obsession, the Suede front man was attempting to detox with the written word. Anderson was searching for a literal, literary resurrection as he explained in Dave Barnett’s Suede: Love & Poison, “I isolated myself with books and real instruments. If anything it was born out of a physical need to escaper London and its temptations. The place was killing me. Literally. I read Atomised by Michel Houllebecq, which directly inspired “Untitled,” and books by Camus, Leonard Cohen, Paul Auster and others. I created a deliberate vacuum so all of these influences would flood in. I spent a lot of time walking in the countryside, sometimes for hours and hours, fascinated by nature and its battle with concrete and steel.”
In reality, Anderson had been living out Bruno Clement’s desperation fantasies from Atomised. Anderson was attempting to capture the aching vulnerability of his beloved Bruno. And in “Untitled” within the beautiful longing is the fatalistic spirit of this “wild flower” being “crushed like a butterfly,” Brett was trying to find some inner peace by channeling his favorite character from Houllebecq’s book.
While working on the New Morning sessions Suede auditioned Beck’s Midnight Vultures collaborator Tony Hoffer. It was short lived but later in Barnett’s book. Anderson talked about Hoffer’s enthusiasm for the lasting emotional connection of “Untitled” when he said, “Me and Simon will be doing something like this song, “Untitled,” which is pretty pastoral, and for some reason he got into the groove of it, and we’re playing this folky thing, and at the end he said, ‘At this point I’m seeing cars in the video, jumping up and down.”
The celebratory tone of the sessions ended with the band trying to re-record the demos, with not one but three other producers including Stephen Street, which Suede made at Stanbridge which included the original version of “Untitled” originally known as “Bony,” which I prefer to the overproduced rendition fond on the final version of 2002’sA New Morning. Brett shared in the discontent of A New Morning when he said in Barnett’s book, “I think it’s got a couple of great moments, but I think it’s weak. Writing the album, I’m not sure I was the sharpest mentally. Didn’t really quite know where I wanted to go. I don’t think it was extreme enough. I think it maybe would have been better and much cooler if it had been an album of acoustic songs.”
Imagine if Suede would have just released the stripped down brilliance Stanbridge demos including “Untitled’s” “Bony?” Until 2013’s Bloodsports, A New Morning had this mournful feeling like it would be the final album by Suede. That 2002 LP was one that left Anderson with dissatisfaction that his favorite character Bruno from Atomised was so familiar in experiencing. Crafted in the countryside away from the lusty temptations and lovely poisons from London, “Untitled” and my preferred choice, “Bony” demo, was Brett Anderson finding compassion in an outcast nature of Bruno. While talking to The Guardian UK, Brett remembered those days before A New Morning like this, “Last year, when I decided not to destroy myself any more, I kind of disappeared off to the countryside with a huge amount of books, a guitar and a typewriter… and wondered what the outcome would be.”
“Untitled” is famous for Anderson’s only lyrical ode to Depeche Mode. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brett name checked “Flies on the Windscreen” from Mode’s dark epic Black Celebration. In reality, Anderson related to the excess craving ways of Michel Houllebecq’s desperate character that Brett honored him in a romantic ode, trying to overcome his fatalistic addictions and trying to find true love. We all can relate to Anderson’s longing ballad, I bet he left this 2002 “Bony,” the demo of A New Morning‘s “Untitled,” so each of us can place ourselves within the lyrical persona of Brett’s touching anthem for the outcast within all of us and our frustrated hearts. With “Untitled,” Anderson learned a very literary lesson, sometimes whilst flirting with our inner demons we find solace and inspirations within the confines and emotions of vivid book instead.
Press to Play – Suede’s “Bony” – The “Untitled” Stanford demo: