The Ghosts In Us

Yet another New Wave classic fills my early morning brain, this time by one of the more successful bands of the early 80’s, The Psychedelic Furs.  Of course John Hughes had something to do with their success, naming one of his most popular films after their song Pretty In Pink, but I would like to think they would have stayed culturally and musically relevant even without their movie soundtrack work (“Love My Way” was in the movie Valley Girl).

I’ve always liked Richard Butler’s voice; he sounds like no one else in rock. It’s got sort of a nasally whine, and seems like it gets stuck in the throat, but it’s emotive and snarly, with his British accent not hidden from view, but not necessarily up front like Robyn Hitchcock or Ray Davies. There’s no mistaking a Psychedelic Furs song when Butler’s mid-range warble comes through the stereo.

I didn’t know many of the lyrics to “The Ghost in You” very well, which makes it an interesting choice for a ear worm.  It’s the advantage of some of the more persistent ear worms, because instead of the entire song circling around, a line or a chorus gets stuck on repeat instead.  This time it was the lines “Inside you, the time moves, and she don’t fade…The ghost in you, she don’t fade.”

There’s a plaintive quality to this song, it’s a ballad of sorts, but was it ever played as a slow song at a high-school dance? My fuzzy memory obfuscates being able to reference any of the dances I’d attended; I only remember the heavy-metal ballads from the dances — Scorpions’ “Still Lovin’ You” and Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” — though I was definitely not doing any dancing and more than likely was behind the school gym, smoking pot with the other stoner nerds, waiting for our buddies whose girlfriends had dragged them to the dance floor because they “fucking love this song!! Dance with me!!!”

What I do remember dancing to, near the end of one particular dance, after we were sufficiently stoned and most of the girls had left with their boyfriends to, we imagined, make out in a car somewhere, was The B52’s “Rock Lobster.” An awkward mass of pimply boys flailing around with high abandon, all of us moving “down, down, down” in messy union as Fred Schneider intoned us to follow his lyrical orders.  And then we’d all jump up in a burst as the guitars kicked back in and Fred warned us to look out for the “stingray” and the “manta ray”, the “jellyfish” and the “dog fish.” To this day, hearing “Rock Lobster” turns me into a dancing fool; it can wash away any mental anguish, any lethargy, any depression.  That is the power of song.

And it doesn’t matter so much what the lyrics are about, if they make sense, if there is a noticeable story. I looked up the lyrics to “Ghost in You” and I’ve read through them a few times and I have no clue what the words mean.  It’s evocative, it’s poetic. It’s borderline sappy. I read it the first time and thought maybe it was a love song. And then I read it again and it evokes religious overtones.  Is it about God?  Then I read it again and see it as perhaps an ode to a dead lover.  Are there songs that do that for you? That inspire new meanings the more you listen to them?

I rarely look back at songs and dissect the lyrics; I love words, but for pop songs, it’s the music that matters most to me.  The lyrics could be about washing dishes, but if it has a catchy melody, I’ll sing along and more than likely, make up most of the words anyway….

A man in my shoes runs a light
And all the papers lied tonight
But falling over you
Is the news of the day

Angels fall like rain
And love, love, love is all of Heaven away

Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade
The ghost in you, she don’t fade
Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade

A race is on I’m on your side
And hearing you my engines die
I’m in a mood for you
For running away

Stars come down in you
And love, love, love you can’t give it away

Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade
The ghost in you, she don’t fade
Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade

Don’t you go it makes no sense
When all your talking supermen
Just take away the time
And get in the way

Ain’t it just like rain
And love, love, love is only Heaven away

Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade
The ghost in you, she don’t fade
Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade
The ghost in you, she don’t fade

 

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2 thoughts on “The Ghosts In Us

  1. Love that you loved the Furs, and weren’t just an SST snob. I loved them and Richard Butler, saw them many times, dragged many friends to those concerts. Sorry, I don’t really have a point to this comment. You might have noticed.

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