Communicate

Certainly not yer average rock song, Communicate (All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes 1982) has more in common with audio performance art, emotional reductionism or a sort of staccato, static laced lyrical abstractism emphasizing the randomness and the incompleteness of the lonely island of individual communications at the far end of modern technology that is yet forced to bend to the wheel of all original forms of human interaction. It also highlights the constant assault of information that WILL breakthrough in one form or another – comprehensible or not – wanted or not.

Opening with a fast paced, frantic yet irrepressible beat, the song has many of the usual Townshend sounds including high energy but smooth as silk acoustic strumming (best right arm in the guitar biz) basic song structure and a “pop art” solo section (intentional, controlled disaster by guitar) reminiscent of the Tommy plane crash sequence.

The somewhat abstract, poetic spoken word sections  – reduced musically to a trademark repetitive synth line over a drone bass and bass drum – suggests a conflation point where truth, beauty, poetry, history, mis-information, image and technology collide.

There are obviously clues all over this piece but where they might lead is just as obviously open to interpretation and it’s quite possible that, for example, the opening lines are themselves purposeful misdirection. (Selbstdarstellung –  Gay Talese –  Euthanasia –  I find nothing on Google about Ronald Rocking – maybe it’s Ronald Reagan)


In the video, Townshend is holding a phone yet he is not speaking into it. So perhaps it is a broadcast of a private conversation meant to be overheard, or an acknowledgement that in this modern time there is no such thing as private communication or private lives. The man in the suit doing sign language, the studio meters and screens showing flashes of info all add to our awareness yet also establish the theme of broken comprehension – of words and meanings that are beyond our control.

I post this song today in light of the vital but fractured universe of communication coming out of Iran (and everywhere else) involving Television, cell phones, the Internet, Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter etc.

Live the communication age, step right up, everyone’s a winner, you might as well, you have nothing to lose and more importantly – if you want to be in the loop – you may have no choice.

Never, Never Hesitate.

 

Communicate

Lyrics and Music by Pete Townshend

Comma comma comma comma
Commai commai commai commai
Commu commu commu commu
communi communi communicate

Selbstdarstellung
Gay Talese
Ronald Rocking
Euthanasia

Use the words like flowing river touches
Embraces parting hard steel surfaces reveling pages
Beneath the water skin broken like ice flows
Smashed by iron bows on the back of a whale

Comma comma comma comma
Commai commai commai commai
Commu commu commu commu
Communicate

Selbstarstellung
Open hearted
Soon forgotten – never parted

Com com communicate
Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Via satellite and solid state
Never never hesitate
Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Never never hesitate

Reaching leaning scratching vainly
Faces dancing locked lipped and between thigh secret
Briolette tears drip from frozen masks
As all those death row questions don’t get asked

Comma comma comma comma
Commai commai commai commai
Commu commu commu commu
communi communi communicate

Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Via satellite and solid state
Never never hesitate
Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Never never hesitate

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