Out Of Time

Wow, it is already five years ago that one night I fell asleep on the couch and got woken up some hours after midnight by my girlfriend, “there’s a new Blur video on MTV! WAKE UP!”. I can’t have done too great a job at waking up, because I remember seeing this beautiful animated video, set on a ship or something. Not much later I bought the DVD version of the single, and couldn’t wait to see it again. I popped it into my DVD player and started watching. Except it wasn’t animated at all, but a documentary-like view of work on a warship.

It can’t have been a coincidence that the Iraq war that had been in the works began around the same time, and this added poignancy to the lyrics that could’ve been about any relationship spinning out of control. In fact, it’s now impossible to hear the song without placing it in the context of war, with the singer appealing to people’s love and dreams as the one and only way to “clear the clouds”. He isn’t blaming anyone, just pointing out that as people we’ve been so busy lately that we haven’t really stopped to think about what’s happening to the world. A world that, if we don’t start caring now, will have some serious trouble to endure in the near future.

Paradoxically, the video takes this wider perspective and then focusses back on the personal effects of this great big mess. A soldier stands on the ship’s deck and remembers her boyfriend, and sadly has to conclude that their time apart in these inhuman conditions has numbed them, and it seems unlikely they’ll ever get back together again.

Musically, this is the most graceful song in the band’s catalogue to be released as a single. It’s got a Moroccan orchestra doing beautiful slightly under-the-radar things, subtle drumming by Dave, a very prominent yet inconspicuous bassline by Alex, hardly noticeable guitars (Graham is rumoured to have helped out on the song despite him having left/been kicked out of the band before the song was recorded), and, not unimportantly, one of Damon’s most soulful vocals that instantly makes you forgive the slightly clunky verse about the sunshine being “in a computer now”. The public must have agreed, because the single shot to number 5 in the UK charts. Considering the song’s many qualities, even this seems an underachievement.

A slightly ragged acoustic version has appeared on a promo disc that was given away with The Observer newspaper. A nice little curio, but it’s strange to have Think Tank‘s crowning moment play second fiddle to “Sweet Song” all of a sudden.

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Published in: on April 10, 2008 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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