“I Believe in You” by Talk Talk (1988)

14 10 2008

If you ask a music lover to name their top 10 albums of all time, they will probably list 50.  As a start.  It’s very hard to do, especially comparing apples to oranges.  So let me just say that “Spirit of Eden,” the album from which this track comes, is without a doubt on the shortest of lists to be in my top ten favorite records.

The album is epic, flowing, expansive, and, to me, very emotional.  None of the tracks are pop songs, or easily digested.  But if you have the patience, and an open mind, maybe it’ll grab you just as tenaciously as it has me.  The chorus (the only way I can classify it) contains only two lines, sparsely repeated:

How long?”

Notice how the muted organ and the glorious Kyrie-esque choir kick in at about 2:45, coalescing into pure harmonic bliss as Mark Hollis pleads for his friend to find his spirit, to ask himself how long can this continue?  Then it dives into uncertainty and anxiety before bringing us back to heaven.

This song is about heroin addiction.  I am not a prude about drugs in general, but some are just bad news.  Really bad news.  I never touched heroin, because, frankly, I don’t think that I would survive the addiction.  Few do.  A childhood friend of mine died from a heroin overdose.  And he wasn’t your stereotypical junkie (as most aren’t), just a guy who was overpowered and then destroyed by the drug (R.I.P. JLQ).

But you know how I believe in the power of music.  I don’t believe a single song can cure you of such a nasty disease (and yes, drug addiction is a disease), but I can’t help thinking that music can help.  If you ever find me down, strung out on heroin (not going to happen, but I’m trying to make a point here), play this song for me.

I may not be completely receptive to it, but I will hear it.  I will hear the plea to search my soul, to tap into my spirit, my inner strength, and maybe ask myself how long I can stay on such a destructive path.  And maybe, when the choir kicks in, I might have a sickly epiphany, rediscover my core, and surrender to any effort to help me.

Please, sweetheart, never forget your spirit.




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