Spinning Away

Ooh, look. I found “Spinning Away” by Eno/Cale on YouTube:

Video: odd. Song: good. There’s a cover version of this, by the mid-90s party band Sugar Ray, but this version is to that, as Shakespeare might say, as Hyperion to a satyr. I give Sugar Ray credit for good taste, but otherwise, yeeech.

My strongest personal memory of this song was listening to it in September of 1991, driving up from Los Angeles to Fresno, where I was going to meet my new colleagues at the Fresno Bee, where I had just gotten a job as film critic. I was driving up the 99 as the sun rose, and everything about the experience was new. So now it’s a song that reminds me of beginnings and of good things to come. Not a bad thing for a song to do.

18 Comments on “Spinning Away”

  1. I love songs that get really tied to memory. What I hate is not being fully-caffeinated enough to remember the good song/incidents. All I can remember is that “I Can’t Drive 55” was on the radio when I drove home from getting my driver’s license. That set a bad standard.

  2. . . . wow. _Wrong Way Up_ is such a great album. I’m always surprised whenever someone else has heard of that album. That’s one of my favorite songs from it, too.

    If only I had sound at work. *bookmarks for evening surfing*

    Also recommended: “One Word,” “Been There Done That,” “Crime in the Desert,” and, heck, just about the entire album. (Skip the last track, the catatonically slow “The River,” which is not coincidentally the only track done entirely by Eno after he and Cale had a falling-out over Cale’s work habits.)

  3. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, fan of boobs

    Is that Eno singing? Sounds like it. Very nice! I will have to get this. Nice thing about iTunes is I can just get stuff instantly and it’s paid for by work. Wooo! Here’s to being an entrepreneur!!!

  4. Another Eno/Cale that’s been covered well: “Lay My Love” — outstandingly done by Poi Dog Pondering.

    And I assume you’ve heard that Eno and David Byrne are working together again.

  5. joelfinkle:

    I had not. I was not a huge fan of their first collaboration, but I like both of them individually, and so would be interested in what they do together.

    Brett L:

    Had not. I guess I should post that before everyone sends it to me.

  6. Oh this is nice. I like pretty much everything both Eno and Cale have touched. A couple of months ago I found an live video of Cale doing Paris 1919 live with an orchestra [you have to cut and paste because I’m lame]:

  7. Or maybe you don’t have to cut and paste. Scalzi, does your magic blog html for me by itself, cos I certainly didn’t hyperlink it!

  8. I have a similar experience driving up from LA to Fresno, only in this case it was to help my family bury my Grandmother after she spent about a month on life support while the various offspring came to terms with her death.

    The whole way up I listened to “Into the blue” from the Moby CD “Everything is Wrong”. I just kept the CD player on repeat, and listened to that song over and over.

    For those who haven’t had the pleasure of driving the Grapevine (the main northbound artery out of LA), the view is wonderfully cleansing and hypnotic, with lovely vistas almost around every corner. After months in a very rectilinear city, the contrast of constant gentle curves is powerfully restoring. The final exhilarating dive downhill though the steep canyons into the broad flat central valley is the perfect coda.

    Too bad at this point you’re only half way there, because the rest of the subliminal vast flatness of the valley is rather anti-climatic.

  9. Wow. *bam* There I am again, in Isla Vista, having picked this up on a whim after enjoying some Eno recently on the radio, listening to it on my Walkman as I ramble over to the UCSB campus, feeling these spare sounds just fill up my head.

    Thanks, John.

  10. I can’t remember which track it was, but I heard one track from this album on WBGU while I was in graduate school. One of the few times I ever bought an album immediately upon hearing one track. The fact that it was Eno and Cale together helped, but it was the sound of the music that sold it immediately.

    this has remained one of the favorites of both my wife and I ever since (and our musical tastes don’t cross over that much). I even bought a CD-Single of one of the songs because it had an otherwise unreleased track. I have never bought CD singles except for that one time.

    and I wasn’t aware of the Poi Dog Pondering cover — that could be really interesting, especially if it’s the earlier version of the band.

  11. Great song that I had forgotten. Eno and trains go together. Thanks for the post.

    I have fond memories of listening to Eno on many trips on the DC to New York Metroliner as the sun rose over the water and marshes.

    Very peaceful and hypnotic.

  12. joefinkle: Dang, you beat me to it :)

    Poi Dog’s cover of “Lay My Love” was the first time I’d heard anything from this album. Years later, I bought _Wrong Way Up_, after having been introduced to _My Life in the Bush of Ghosts_, and WWU became my favorite album for at least a year; it’s still on my desert island list.

    Anyway, after that little youtube taste, I find I’m hungry for the album again, so I’m now listening to my favorite from it, “Empty Frame”. It’s just so unspeakably good!

  13. Dang it! This is the second time this week you linked to a vid on YouTube that I really wanted to watch but by the time I saw it in your post, the video got removed. Me thinks your googolplex of readers cause some bandwidth issues on the Tube. LOL

  14. That Sugar Ray cover is on the soundtrack to The Beach, though, which is an awesome CD–All Saints, Dario G, Unkle, Mory Kante, and Blur are all on it. I still listen to it fairly often.

    They (Sugar Ray) also covered Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra.” Which was also pretty cool.

  15. Like 2 minutes in, once everyone’s bored to death, they should turn the camera on the train around and have it be Under Seige II (the one in the train, of course).

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