Friday, 29 June 2007

Somewhere Else


I can't find the exact quote, but Steve Hogarth has said something along the lines of the latest Marillion album, and this title track in particular, being the most open and personal he's ever been in his songwriting. Now, he's certainly not one to shy away from hyperbole, but I think it's probably true. The song begins reasonably enough on that front, questioning the worth of his choice of career, "Better to be a doctor, or a man who walks the Earth", but soon descends into clichés like "Such a thin line between love and hate" and some sort of lunatic nursery rhyme riddle; "Mr. Taurus/Ate a thesaurus/Made the girls cry and skipped straight to the chorus". Honestly, what on Earth is that? I mean, minimal research reveals that Mr. Hogarth was indeed born on the cusp of Taurus, so I guess he is still talking about himself, but this is still pretty far removed from 'open and personal', as far as I can see.

Anyway, the song meanders along for a good six minutes in search of a purpose, with its vague strands of something that, if you were feeling generous, you might describe as 'narrative', all loosely tied together with a repeated refrain of "Look at myself, look at myself...". I've mentioned nothing about the other four members of the band yet, because the instrumentation here is really so sparse as to go unnoticed, and yet at the same time it manages to carry across a constant feeling just outside of your peripheral vision of building anticipation, like there's something big coming, and we're all just holding our breath, waiting for it to happen.

And then, of course, it does happen; Hogarth quietly slips in an echoing falsetto that's pretty hard to decipher if you don't know what you're listening for; "Everyone I love... lives somewhere else...". And that's the signal, the cue for Ian Mosley to crash in on the drums, and Steve Rothery to break out a classic Floydian guitar solo, and all the power they've been storing up throughout the song is finally unleashed. Hogarth completes the thought that had been Bad Wolfing it's way through the verses; "I have time to look at myself", and then twists it around and completes it again; "And I have seen enough." Because all the meandering, and the clichés and the nursery rhymes were really just Hogarth attempting to obfuscate this simple fact; trying to find a false song, a mask to wear or a character to play to avoid admitting the raw truth of it. I have time to look at myself and I have seen enough. Now, maybe we're talking literally, and everyone you love lives somewhere else geographically, or maybe we're talking metaphorically and everyone you know lives somewhere else spiritually, but either way, I think it's quite likely that you've been there too.

And then, as suddenly as it burst forth from the speakers, the climax is gone again, fading almost apologetically into an electronic beep, quite possibly that of an answerphone, as if embarrassed to have let out such raw and intense self-expression.

Video: Somehwere Else
The song, set to some live photography.


Anonymous said...

Why haven't you covered Brave, you old smart cynic? ;)

RG said...

That 'Mr Taurus' line is a sharp reminder of one of many reasons why I hated 'Somewhere Else' when it came out and have never, ever managed to warm to it.

The only Marillion album to leave me feeling bitterly disappointed was 'Radiation' and even that clicked eventually...

...but 'Somewhere Else'? Nah. Mostly nasty.