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    As I'm one of those guys who thinks that lyrics are soul of the music, I've been trying to figure out meaning of some Wire's songs. Yet, there are some difficulties...
    "A Mutual Friend". I haven't got any idea what this "He might replace the old with the moon, he might replace the old quite soon" sentence means and I think it's the key to understang the whole song.
    Any ideas? Maybe Colin himself could explain what this song is about?
    good luck - i gave up trying to decypher Wire's lyrics long ago! even when i'm told the subject matter, they still seem unfathomly deep & obscure! but hey, Wire are an 'art' band & as such i totally accept that!

    just go with the flow, man!
    There was a fuunny discussion in 2002 about what the "Art of Stopping" meant.

    Dug up from the Idealcopy.

    Struck down. I bought RNB1 last week and it is so good. Absolutely blows
    away anything I have heard in the past ten years (since the release of The
    First Letter). I have turned to thinking about the lyrics, esp. In the Art
    of Stopping. At first it I thought it might have something to do with the
    trust we exhibit when we cross an intersection. But then it dawned on me
    with all of the Catho-licks around [the pope was in town at the time]. Myself being lapsed, thought of one of
    the favourite methods of Catho-lick birth control: withdrawal. That must be it.

    A lot of good contributions on the regionalisms of the term afterward including this one:

    it certainly would carry the 'science v. faith' thread on from 'Kidney 
    Bongos' and 'In Vivo' amongst others...

    thought i'd share this one with you on Merseyside we call that
    particular art of stopping, 'getting off at Edge Hill'...
    so called, because this is the last-but-one train station on the main line
    into Liverpool...


    My opinion is that your impressions of a lyric are perhaps the right one. In your example, a moon can be "new" or "full" but it's never old. Could it be that simple?
    please excuse the interjection about another band, but this is kinda appropriate, well worth reading and absolutely HILARIOUS!!!

    now back on topic The Art Of Stopping = rhythm method - also hilarious!!!!
    Thanks for that. It goes on a bit in the end, but the first half had some gems like…

    “And what's this about smelling of "too many" right-wing meetings? Because this implies that actually, there is a certain acceptable quota of right-wing meetings that one might reasonably attend, before a) becoming fatally morally compromised and b) developing a distinctive "right wing" odour.”

    “remember that by the last verse he's suffered quite a few blows to the head, and may not be thinking straight.”

    “Is Weller thick enough to print his adress on his keyring?? How the hell are the muggers going to know where the hell he lives by just stealing his keys?”

    I do vaguely recall thinking that myself at the time!
    Reminds me of this gem from McSweeney's a few years ago...

    Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005
    From: Patrick Cassels
    Subject: Go. Clearly

    Dear McS,

    Why did The Clash feel the need to write such a perplexed and long-winded
    song for such a simple question?

    If I go there will be trouble
    An' if I stay it will be double

    Clearly, to go is the better option, as it will cause half the trouble as
    staying. It's pure logic.

    I'm as embarrassed for them as you are,

    Patrick Cassels
    Marlboro, NY

    There's also some chat about Madness Our House here..
    When I first saw the title "A Mutual Friend" I always related it to "Our Mutual Friend" by Dickens. There were a few references to novels in 154. In WIRE, there is always wordplay and substitutions. "Replace the old with the new" is a more common phase, but it is sort of a cliche. "Now your son has set his sights on the moon" plays around with the sun/son confusion. The next line "So precipitous a decision has clouded your vision" has the words "precipitous" (precipitation?) and "clouded" (clouds) which are related. The line "While savagely your love you prune" seems odd. I find a lot of 154 to be about travel, the weather, mental states, vague feelings, love, relationship, all undefined. The only song which is more narrative is "The Other Window" where the narrator sees a horse in barbed wire. He feels helpless.
    "The only song which is more narrative is "The Other Window" where the narrator sees a horse in barbed wire. He feels helpless."

    Of course, in this mobile phone age, he could have done something about it rather than just look away and write about it. Probably best they don't resurrect this number live, eh?

    ; )
    It's not about doing anything. Arcade Fire has a song about this. We watch the chaos and the brutality of the world, while we stay in our safe place at home.
    "Probably best they don't resurrect this number live, eh?" i would simply LOVE IT if they done that live! similarly Torch It or Feed Me!!!
    The adage that "writers write" is illuminating in the case of "A Mutual Friend". The original idea/ motivation for the text came from the challenge to turn/ reinvest value into "the greatest (?) romantic lyric cliche rhyme moon/june"...and in the process include every month of the year.
    What emerged was a lyric about right of passage, ambition and the resentment which can result from their effects.
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeSep 6th 2008)
    "right of passage"

    intentional pun, or...? Interesting!
    i'm trying to make a mixtape of love songs by wire so i can present it to my girlfriend, does anybody have any ideas as to where to start..?
    ideally i'd like enough material for a minidisc length compilation, 74 minutes.
    thanks to all beforehand.
    That could be a high risk project. Not sure much of Wire's output is on the sunny side of that street. Then again, I may not be qualified to say
    Probably avoid Mannequin:

    You're a waste of space
    No natural grace
    You're so bloody thin
    You don't even begin
    To interest me, not even curiosity
    It's not animosity, it's just you don't interest me

    You're an energy void
    A black hole to avoid
    No style no heart
    You don't even start
    To interest me, not even curiosity
    It's not animosity, it's just you don't interest me
    Maybe Ambitious would fit the bill? Wire doesn't really write "love songs" very often
    Blimey, Good luck with that one!

    'Feeling Called Love' is the only one I can think of, and no doubt knowing Wire its not about Love at all, its probably about alienation or hats or something.

    Avoid "One of Us will live to Rue the day we met each other" too!
    A Touching Display springs to mind - direct and gut wrenching. You might have more joy moving out into the 'side' projects.
    Do You Mean That from He Said's Hail; Watch Take Care from He Said's Take Care, Smart Material Love (Waves) from Halo's Immanent, But I and Let Me Explain The Delay from Newman's Commercial Suicide (possibly others from It Seems which I'm less familiar with).

    You're probably better waiting for the 'embittered recriminations phase' compilation

    No disrespect, but I'm wondering, was the request somewhat tongue-in-cheek?
    On the subject of THE CLASH I was recently berated by Lewis for carrying a tape of their first album to listen to en route from Scotland to Manchester.

    However on the denim sponsored chart topper "Should I Pay Or Should I Blow?" can anyone out there in net nerd land confirm whether the late Joe Strummer (RIP) sang, "Bog roll here, bog roll there, bog roll!" on the chorus backing?

    Right I'm outta here, must rush UPTOWN to hear Mick Turner of the Dirty Three.
    Has anyone noticed that Free Falling Divisions is missing as you scroll down the lyrics for A Bell Is a Cup on the Pink Flag discography page? It still comes up when you type in the song name, though.