“You can hear the sound of the underground train, though it feels like distant thunder…”
I made a playlist and put it on CD for a couple of people close to me at Christmas which I called “Night”. It was a selection that was mellow but not bland. Music that could move you in the early hours, relax you but also intrigue you. Music that lives with you.
First track on the playlist was “This City Never Sleeps” by the Eurythmics. I’d kind of forgotten the Eurythmics until recently, when I was writing about electronic music in the early eighties. So I dug out my vinyl, and they were all there, loads, six or seven Eurythmics albums. Must have liked them. Somehow, with the passage of time, they faded from my memory. But as soon as I put on the records, it came flooding back. The first album, “Sweet Dreams (Are made Of This)” was an electronic masterpiece and the title track was a big hit. I recalled that with each album – except “1984”- they became even more popular as they mastered the mainstream, teamed up with greats like Aretha Franklin, became part of the rock establishment. Of course as this ascent continued I became less interested. The early stuff was the best for me.
And “This City Never Sleeps” was the track I was drawn to. One to file in atmospheric. It conjures up so many images of London at night. The dark rainy streets, the lonely underground platform as you wait for the last train, the rumble of the tube beneath your house, which I remember from days living in Pimlico, the silent streets as you walk home after a late night, with no transport to get you back.
Even today, as a family man, there are times, rare times, when I have a choice about how I get home and if it’s not too far away, I like nothing better than donning the iPod, putting on some favourite tunes and walking the streets of this wonderful city. It’s fair to say that when I decide to do such a thing, I have usually had a bit to drink. It inspires! I love to listen to Pink Floyd at such a time: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, “Wish You Were Here”. And “This City Never Sleeps” by the Eurythmics, because it is a perfect accompaniment on such a journey. It is London.
There is especially something about the bass line that entrances me. It is simple but deep, and I find myself imagining how this song, driven by that bass line, could have a brilliant dub reggae remix. I think to myself, one day, one day…
This was a fairly obscure track on that first album, although I’ve just realised, looking for a version on Youtube, that it featured in the classic eighties film, “9 1/2 Weeks”. I was a bit disappointed to be reminded of that, because it disturbed my own pristine memories. But only briefly. It is London’s song. Not some yuppie US soft porn thing. But then again, it shows how a song with so much atmosphere can work for so many different purposes.
Of course I must include a Youtube link so you can hear what I am writing about. But it is a song that is all in the head. The sound of late night London, whatever that means to you, if you live in London. And if you don’t, then whatever those bass lines and swooping guitars and Annie Lennox’s voice mean to you. This video sums that up perfectly – it’s not the band, but it’s what it conjures up for the person who made the effort to post this.