Definitely another one for the "Successful Experiments" pile. It's about how much of a fool's errand it can be to try to remain friends with someone after a failed relationship, as quite aptly demonstrated by Big Brother contestants Ziggy and Chanelle this last week. I apologise for that reference to anyone who is not a fan of the show, but they've been my inspiration for picking this song to write about right now, so I felt I ought to give them a mention. Really though, they do fit the subject matter extremely well.
"Quartz" uses an extended metaphor centred around the line "I'm clockwork and you're quartz". (As in "quartz clock". Wikipedia to the rescue, as usual). Hogarth gets a pretty amazing amount of mileage out of this metaphor, and it's pretty much uniformly good mileage too; there's barely anything that's really stretched to accomodate the point, and so very many gems; "You're only happy when you wind me up/And I know you're so reliable it isn't true/And it's so easy for me to break down" is particularly brilliant, but there are so many lines I could be listing here. It's definitely one of the best sets of lyrics Hogarth has ever penned.
And then they take all that and couple it with some truly exemplary instrumentation; Pete Trewavas' mechanical walking bassline, regular as clockwork, is not only a perfect fit for the song, it also gives a pretty unique sound. And not just among Marillion songs; I don't think I know any other song that sounds quite like this, though obviously there is a fairly large library of songs out there that I have never heard, and never will.
It also ends with a couple of my favourite song ending tropes; everything suddenly cutting out with a "One of these days/You're just gonna STOP!", and then that being a fake ending, because whoever the song is adressed to is the quartz and Hogarth is the clockwork in the analogy, and as such needs to take a minute to slowly wind down. I actually never got that until seeing Hogarth's clockwork dance in the video below. I hope this project will continue to increase my appreciation for some of the songs like that.
Video: Quartz (live in Amsterdam, 2001)
Yes, that is a cricket bat.