Walt’s Depeche Mode Anti-Greatest-Hits Mix
Laura’s Blog Entry
The lovely Walt asked me a favor that I am ever so happy to grant. You see, Walt just completed his Depeche Mode studio album collection (Did I mention Walt is a brilliant man with exquisite taste?) and requested a mix incorporating my favorite songs from the those albums, stating specifically that it not be a “greatest hits” mix, which he could easily do himself.
For me, it was a labor of love. And if he asked me tomorrow instead of last week it probably would be entirely different. Depeche Mode songs appeal to me as my moods change. So this mix is on the darker side. What a surprise.
I decided to include two songs from each album and keep them in chronological order. For the hardcore DM fans, you will notice they are also in the order they appear on the albums except for one. I had a darn good reason for the deviation. I swear. OK, on to the music.
SPEAK AND SPELL
One of the darker tracks from this their most “poppy” album. There are lovely Vince Clarke synth lines in this one. I vote they bring “Puppets” back for the tour.
Then there’s “Photographic.” Classic. And in fact they did play this one on the last tour. And the fans went wild. I love all the buzzy little sounds in it. The remastered version brought out some parts I’d never noticed before. “I take pictures. Photographic pictures.”
A BROKEN FRAME
Leave in Silence
Choosing two songs from this album was most challenging. At the time of this record the band was trying to find their way after Vince Clarke departed. Martin was suddenly the songwriter. The album is not as unified as most of the others. I think everything kind of came together on this song, though. The music took a distinctly different direction and the lyrics went from somewhat nonsensical on Speak and Spell to darker and slightly cynical, as in “This will be the last time. I think I said that last time.”
The Sun and the Rainfall
One of my favorite lines comes from this song, “You’re the one I like best; you retain my interest.” This is another song I’d love to hear make a comeback on the tour. The synth lines are just so very… well… Depeche Mode. It’s the sound many try to copy and fail miserably at the attempt. And the layered vocals just give me such a happy feeling.
CONSTRUCTION TIME AGAIN
Told You So
Cynicism at it’s best. A reoccurring theme for the band is the hypocrisy of organized religion and the religious. “Something went wrong along the way, everybody’s waiting for judgment day. So they can go told you so.” When I first started listening to DM I was having some of my own experiences with hypocrisy, so I related to this wholeheartedly. Today it helps me remember that I need to put into action the values that I SAY are important to me.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time you may have noticed that I have a bit of an issue with guilt. And shame seems to be guilt’s nasty cousin. Well this song has guilt, shame, as well as pain. Awesome! If you beat yourself up as much as I do (Yes, Walt, I’m talking to you, Mister.) then you can probably relate to this song, too. When I first heard it, it was a revelation to me to discover someone else felt the way I did about these things.
SOME GREAT REWARD
Lie to Me
Ah, Some Great Reward. My first DM album. And how much do I love this song? Soooo much. This song provided the line that because the title of the album: “Lie to me, like they do it in the factory. Make me think that at the end of the day, some great reward will be coming my way.” I wish I knew why cynicism of this kind is so appealing to me. What kind of person is comforted by sarcasm? (You don’t need to actually answer. It was rhetorical. Unless you have a really good answer for me, that is.) As I am listening to it I just realized that this song has a correlation to one of the songs on our new record. Once it comes out, maybe I’ll tell you which one.
It Doesn’t Matter
Oh Mr. Gore. Sing it. Such a beautifully sad song. With a grain of hope in it. When I first heard this song I was having a similar relationship. Hearing it transports me back to that time and those feelings.
It Doesn’t Matter Two
OK, here’s the one that’s out of order, but I felt it should follow “It Doesn’t Matter.” I find this song utterly tragic. Because IT DOES MATTER.
Black Celebration has been the most influential album for me. I think the root of DM fandom is that we all relate to the music in such an extreme way. Through these songs I realized the world was bigger than what I had experienced, and there were indeed other people like me out there. This song used to be about the BLACK. But ever since I saw them sing it on the Exciter Tour it now is about the CELEBRATION. It’s funny how things look different when you are no longer mired down in the muck of things.
MUSIC FOR THE MASSES
To Have and to Hold
Oh this one is dark. I’ve really been drawn to it lately. It’s about wrestling with the good and evil within us. There’s so much nasty stuff I see in myself, and in the world in general. We’ve gotta hang in there and keep fighting for the good stuff.
This song just makes me what to dance. I dare you to watch Depeche Mode 101 and not get up and dance when those bus kids are dancing in the aisles. Don’t know why, but I can’t resist a song that talks about why God doesn’t answer us in a way that we want him to and that employees 50’s do-wop harmonies at the same time.
World in My Eyes
So obviously we reference the artwork from this single in our podcast logo, and we adapted the line, “Let me show you the world in my eyes.” But take away the lyrics and you still have one kickin’ electronic song. This also goes at the top of my DM dance songs list. Sometimes I really miss Alan Wilder and what he brought to the group. I hear a lot of him in this song.
Waiting for the Night
This is one of those songs that sucks you way down under. A hypnotic headphone experience. I’ve heard speculation that it’s about child abuse, but I don’t think Mr. Gore has ever specifically confirmed or denied that. All I know is that the harmonies rip my heart out.
SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION
In Your Room
It’s one of the hits, but it has to be on the list. This song is so absolutely perfect. The way it builds. Amazing. The intensity of the music is why I love DM. When they play this song live I can nearly get completely lost in my own world despite being in a crowd of thousands of people. If I could wire it directly to my brain I would do it.
Had to do one of Mr. Gore’s from this album. Martin and a string section. Sigh. What could be better? This song shows that while many of Martin’s lyrics are dark, and questioning, and sometimes sarcastic, this one looks at the hopeful side of relationships.
From the album that almost wasn’t. But if it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have one of my favorite songs of all time, “Home.” Martin at his most hopeful. For those days that you actually see the beauty in life. May there be more of those.
Not a song that’s ever gotten that much attention, but I’ve always been draw to it. I think it builds on the positive nature of “Home.” I still believe love is going to win in the end. I just wish it weren’t so damn painful while we’re getting there.
I have really been drawn to this song lately. To me it sums of the best part of being in love – when you can “leave the world behind” and the person you are with can show you a whole new way of looking at things. I love the hippy-trippy vibe of Exiter. This is one of about six DM songs that mention angels. But who’s counting?
I Feel Loved
Yet another killer dance song, plain and simple. And more harmonies that send a chill up my spine. I think that Dave’s voice really achieved a new level of warmth and resonance with this record that continues to this day.
PLAYING THE ANGEL
John the Revelator
This song fascinates me. Only DM can take a classic gospel song structure and update it with present day social and religious issues. The production on this album was a shocker when it came out. Totally blown out and distorted, yet controlled. IMO it broke all the rules in the most masterful of ways. And it is most delightfully electronical. That’s my own word, electronical.
I feel a bit voyeuristic listening to this one. It is a rare, first-person lyric that is more literal that most, but still leaves lots of room for speculation on the part of the listener. There is a lot of power in that. “I hear your voice and any choice I had is gone.” So simply and perfectly said.
The mix seemed to end a little abruptly at this point, so I went back to Exciter for one more:
One of Dave’s most intimate vocal performances. This is a pretty minimalistic arrangement and I love the way the vocals are so vulnerable. Don’t we all just want to hear someone say, “You can take your time, I’ll be waiting in line, you don’t even have to give me the time of day.” We should all be so lucky.
Congratulations Walt. You have just gone to the next level as a DM fan. As well as the next level as my friend. I hope that listening to this group of songs together gives them new meaning for you! And if you are not Walt, I hope maybe you will at least listen to one of these songs as a result. After all, my purpose in life is “Spreading the news around the world, taking the word to boys and girls…”