What’s in a song?: Spinning Away – Brian Eno and John Cale

This winter has been brutal. This year so far full of sadness and loss. Keeping spirits up against such an onslaught is tough, really tough. I worry that part of me didn’t survive; hardened by the ice before melting away with the snow. This is me now. I have never been so ready for spring and all the promise that it brings, and as the wind warms and brings with it blue sky; it is time to reset. Reset the sadness. Reset the loss. Reset the disappointment and reset our goals. It is at times like this that music reveals it’s true power as an individual song can bring about the change needed to drag your limp bones out of the funk. I’m sure this is the reason why so many of us love music unconditionally. This winter has been brutal, but I’ve found my way out.

What makes a summer song? Many factors, obviously. The strongest of which (to me at least) is when you first hear it. Take The Who; I first obsessed over them one hot summer many, many years ago and now I can listen to ‘Can’t Explain‘ in the depths of a snow drift and be taken back to the warmth. Equally the early solo work by Troels Abrahamsen is winter for me, as I bought it during a particularly dank November. A lesser factor is the instrumentation, playing style or the arrangement; a chilled out guitar line and syncopated back-beat will likely bring out illusions of warmer climates and by extension that of the summer. A further, minor factor is inherent positivity; major chords and uplifting lyrics are culturally wired to herald order, warmth and life. Some songs have one of these factors, some have two; Spinning Away by Brian Eno and John Cale has all of them. It is an ultimate summer jam.

It’s hard for me to forget watching Danny Boyle’s The Beach and hearing the Afro-beat guitar line of Sugar Ray’s ‘Spinning Away’ cover. My mind permanently seared associations of that sound with blue seas and never-ending beaches. I don’t even really like the island notion of paradise, but through the music it became utterly compelling. I wanted to spin in slow motion with a lover, dancing round a fire as the stars filled the sky. Of course, this was many, many years before I met her but the idea was formed and a perfect summer forever tied through the music. That was a particularly good summer; long, lazy and free. In retrospect it was likely my last endless summer, from that point forward my summers became work filled and finite. But through ‘Spinning Away’ (and ‘Porcelain‘, and ‘On Your Own‘) I got to at least enjoy the idyll while it lasted. 14 years later, at an incredibly low ebb, my Spotify Discover throws the original at me. Despite being fundamentally the same as the version I grew to love, there was something about Eno’s detached delivery that super-charged all the hopes, dreams and raven skies I’d bundled around the song. Eno redeems himself. Well played Spotify.

This summer is going to be cracking. A bud of limitless potential waiting to open. I can remember that now.

If you liked this little read then be sure to follow the Facebook and the Twitter. If you want to hear my own songs to gear you up for the summer then click here. You may also like these recent blogs so go mining and I’ll see you next week.

Real Talk: On Musical Collaboration (It’s a RUM DO)

Slow Music Review: Right Said Fred – Up

Slow Music Review: John Wizards – John Wizards


4 thoughts on “What’s in a song?: Spinning Away – Brian Eno and John Cale

    • rryrry says:

      You knows it! I was listening to the album yesterday and it came though like a stone in the water. Beautiful, elegant and calming all the chaos around. Incredible.

      Vivre la résistance


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