I’m beginning to think I might have a sixth sense about music. Rewind to 2019 when I lost a longtime friend to cancer, and I did what I used to frequently do as an angst-ridden gal who was just barely out of her teens – I listened to music by The Cure to give me a lift. For some of you, this might be like popping a Valium to get a high (I get you, really I do)! But for some strange reason, the depressing themes and melodies of The Cure’s music almost always had a way of lifting me up when I was down – it worked when I was 20, and it worked last year when I was mourning the death of my longtime friend Archie. The album I primarily listened to was their 1990 remix/compilation album “Mixed Up.” Fitting, because I was very mixed up at that time, and listening to the Cure helped me, as the Brits would say, “get it sorted.”
Little did I know that The Cure was going to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame later that year (along with Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music and The Zombies). I didn’t even know at the time that they were also working on a new album (which was rumored to be released in 2019 but still hasn’t…yet).
Which brings me to:
In the past month or so, I’ve been listening to quite a lot of Depeche Mode, a band I’ve liked since I was a freshman in high school. From the time I decided to grab a cassette copy of “Catching Up with Depeche Mode” from the shelves at my local mall’s music emporium (which was probably called Tape World) in 1986, I’ve been a bonafide fan of Depeche Mode. “Catching Up with Depeche Mode” was a compilation album, so it was essentially like a “greatest hits” album. I certainly didn’t have the money at the time to be able to buy all of their albums released up until that point, so it was a good way for me to “catch up!”
The darker themes of the songs’ lyrics and the synth-driven melodies appealed to me and my teenage angst. I didn’t go around dressed like a “goth kid” ever, but let’s just say I always had an inner goth kid lurking underneath (and still do)! I sometimes refer to it as my “inner Wednesday Addams.”
Did I say dark? Consider the plot outlined in the lyrics of “Blasphemous Rumors.” A girl attempts suicide when she’s 16, survives the attempt, but gets hit by a truck later – ending up on a life support machine. The chorus goes like this:
I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours…but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor and when I die, I expect to find him laughing.
Blasphemous Rumours – Martin Gore (lyricist)
Equally dark were the themes of “Master and Servant” (sadomasochism, later refrained in their 1988 hit “Strangelove”) and “Fly on the Windscreen” (lyrics included “Death is everywhere” – need I say more). Quite a change from their “boppy” early songs recorded when future half of Erasure duo Vince Clarke was still part of the group, who was at the helm for songs such as “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “New Life.” For the record, I also like Erasure songs, but never became the level of fan of Erasure that I was for Depeche Mode!
If there was ever a time I still had a working VCR and my old “Depeche Mode 101” videocassette, that would be today! That video chronicled Depeche Mode while they were on their tour supporting the “Music for the Masses” album. Oh to find that streaming somewhere!
Another of my favorite Depeche Mode albums is the 1993 album “Songs of Faith and Devotion.” From what I’ve read, they were attempting to tap into the rock and grunge sounds popular at the time and do something more “guitar driven.” Which they accomplished in tracks like “I Feel You,” “Mercy in You” and “Rush.” But…since they are Depeche Mode, the album couldn’t be COMPLETELY rock driven, could it? No! Behold the song “One Caress,” which featured a 28-piece string ensemble and was originally only intended to be a “B-side.” The song always reminded me of vampires – and I happen to love the string ensemble (it’s the song I scroll for when I can’t decide whether I want to listen to classical or Depeche Mode). Some vampish lyrics from “One Caress”:
I’m shying from the light
I always loved the night
And now you offer me eternal darknessOne caress, Depeche Mode
British music arranger Will Malone arranged the strings for this track, which was recorded in London. Malone has also worked with artists including Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Verve and Massive Attack. “One Caress” is quite nice to hear on a decent car stereo!
The tour for this album took a toll on the band. Keyboardist Alan Wilder quit after the tour (sad, I always thought he was the best musician in the group and didn’t listen to them much after he quit). I was attending college and had no car at the time and could not see them when they came to Detroit (yes, the “real” Detroit at the former Joe Louis Arena, home turf for the Detroit Red Wings). Now about the Detroit Red Wings! I managed to find a “log” of Depeche Mode’s tour, and was amused by this entry:
October 21 (1993) DETROIT:” Went to see the Detroit Red Wings beat someone else (Winnipeg Jets) at ice hockey. A fantastic atmosphere. It’s amazing how the Americans can have a sport where the players beat the shit out of each other, and yet the crowd remain jovial and even bring their kids along. THAT’S how you maintain sell-out crowds. Premiership clubs take note.”Daryl bamonte, depeche mode roadie
Roadie Daryl Bamonte wrote the tour log, which you can read here: https://dmlive.wiki/wiki/Devotional/Exotic_Tour_Diary
How well did Depeche Mode perform on the Hot 100 charts? Not nearly as well as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey or Madonna, but here goes:
top charting Depeche Mode songs (billboard hot 100)
- “Enjoy the Silence,” (#8, 1990)
- “People are People,” (#13, 1985)
- “Policy of Truth,” (#15, 1990)
- “Personal Jesus,” (#28, 1990)
- “It’s No Good,” (#38, 1997)
- “Strangelove,” (#50, 1988)
- “World in My Eyes,” (#52, 1990)
- “I Feel You,” (#37, 1993)
- “Route 66/Behind the Wheel,” (#61, 1988)
- “Never Let Me Down Again,” (#63, 1988)
Fast forward to today (November 7, 2020) – and my favorite dark princes of synth – are GETTING INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK ‘N ROLL HALL OF FAME! Other inductees include Irving Azoff (who?), the Doobie Brothers (who doesn’t love Michael McDonald’s voice, LOL), Whitney Houston, Jon Landau (again who?), the Notorious B.I.G., and T. Rex I will be signing up for a free trial of HBO Max for this occasion, and as luck will have it, will have the house to myself when this is broadcast tonight at 8. Did I have a “sixth sense” for this happening? Mmmaybe! My dear husband will be at a friend’s campfire, I have a six-pack of Bell’s Oberon beer in the fridge… Since I am such a huge dork, this is the image that comes to my mind:
So what are my favorite Depeche Mode songs?
My favorite depeche mode songs (in no particular order)
- “Love in Itself”
- “Fly on the Windscreen”
- “Stripped” (also like the Rammstein cover of that song immensely)
- “Waiting for the Night”
- “In Your Room”
- “One Caress”
- “Here is the House”
- “Happiest Girl”
- “Dressed in Black”
- “Stories of Old”
- “Behind the Wheel/Route 66”
- “Higher Love”
- “A Question of Lust”
And more importantly, what shirt do I wear when I’m watching the virtual induction ceremony tonight? My tank top from Depeche Mode’s 1990 “Violator” tour? I saw them live at Pine Knob (more about that place in a bit) for their “Violator” tour along with my brother, future sister in law and my friend Wendy.
Or do I wear my nine inch nails shirt from their tour supporting “The Fragile?”
Speaking of nine inch nails…I’ve been of fan since I snuck into my brother’s bedroom – which was in the basement of my childhood home (what better place to store a teenage boy, LOL) – and made a cassette copy of one of his nine inch nails CDs, which was the 1989 album “Pretty Hate Machine.”
nine inch nails
To me, nine inch nails was essentially a lot like my beloved Depeche Mode – only with a more industrial edge (though equally dark in tone and subject matter). Eventually my brother would find out that I was in his room without permission and used his stereo without permission – but he would also later buy me a T-shirt from their tour supporting their 1999 album “The Fragile.” All forgiven, right? I would see nine inch nails live only once – during the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991 at Pine Knob in Clarkston, MI (which was called “Detroit” for tour promotion purposes). Now the venue is called DTE Energy Music Theater (but it will ALWAYS be Pine Knob to me).
Later, I would be equally entranced by a couple of other nine inch nails albums – “The Downward Spiral” – and “The Fragile,” and even bought the soundtrack for the 1997 David Lynch film “Lost Highway” because he recorded the track “The Perfect Drug” on that album. As for videos? Well, the video for “Closer” made me feel both a little naughty inside – and just a bit icky (the goggles and meat hooks…those just stirred up something dark and dank within my psyche AND libido and that’s all I’m gonna say about THAT)!
This wasn’t the first time I bought a whole album just because of one track (vis a vis the Reality Bites album incident involving a Lenny Kravitz track). Hey, we only get to be young ‘n dumb once, don’t we? Speaking of soundtracks, nine inch nails’ Trent Reznor has composed quite a number of soundtracks for film and TV, including the films Gone Girl and The Social Network – and the TV series “Watchmen” (which maybe I can watch during my free HBO Max trial).
Top Charting nine inch nails songs (billboard hot 100)
- “The Hand That Feeds,” (#56, 2005)
- “Closer,” (#51, 1994)
- “Hurt,” (#54, 1995)
- “The Perfect Drug,” (#53, 1997)
Don’t serve up any “pretty hate” about this number of songs being low! nine inch nails is primarily considered an “alternative” band, and the songs chart much higher on that list!
To round out this blog, I’m going to list:
My favorite Nine inch nails songs (in no particular order)
- “Get Down, Make Love” (Queen cover released as a B-side to “Sin”)
- “Down in It” (I don’t care if it’s a Skinny Puppy ripoff)
- “Dead Souls” (from the soundtrack for The Crow)
- “The Downward Spiral” (listen to this on headphones, trust me on this)
- “Big Man With a Gun” (the title says it all)
- “Into the Void”
- “The Way Out is Through”
- “We’re In This Together”
- “The Day the World Went Away”
- “Just Like You Imagined
- “La Mer”