David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 1: Big Country (Chance)

365 Artists In A Song: Day One (4/27/20)

As I spend my birthday in confinement, or at least the shelter-at-home of COVID-ment, I decide to launch a year's worth of tributes to 365 noteworthy songs from 365 artists.  It will simply give me something productive to do until life gets back to normal, which I doubt happens by my 59th birthday. I doubt anyone will follow it with any regularity.

As best as I can, I will choose a song/artist each day because recently hearing that song will trigger thoughts. (I do a lot of random play of my collection, so this increases these moments of chance.) Unfortunately, I am not well-versed in musical theory, so the commentary will carry the banality of those who can't.

Finally, as much as I can, I also hope not to always choose an artist's "best" song, but one that resonates at the moment. 

Which brings me to a good (and appropriate) start for Day 1: Big Country and "Chance."

The emotional pull of this song comes immediately from the pathos of the character at the heart of the song, the girl swept away by the man who took her from "[her] father's hand that always seemed more like a fist." There is a moment of painful realization with the lyric that the man "came like a hero from the factory floor/with the moon and sun as gifts/but the only son you ever saw/were the two he left you with."

The heart of most good songs is the chorus, and "Chance" doesn't disappoint. The rising of the chorus's beginning "Oh Lord, where did the feeling go" juxtaposed with the swooping drop of "I never felt so low" eventually repeated over and over slays me every time.  The verses have a crisp guitar line that underscores Stuart Adamson's voice and explodes into the swell that bridges the second repeat of the chorus to the final recitation of the chorus.

The single version cuts out a few seconds of a subdued opening and a lengthier subdued fade-out. The great crime of pop music: edit and condense for radio play. The subtle instrumentation that leads in and carries out frames the song's narrative perfectly.

I have a Big Country Best of collection that somehow doesn't include this damn song, so it was only when my friend Steve sent it to me as part of a different Best of Big Country that I remembered just how much I love it and need it in my life. Is there any time in our lives when we can ask ourselves if "we never felt so low?"

Adamson suffered with the demons that come with many of the brilliant -- alcoholism and depression, if you can trust the information posted in various places online. He died in 2001. I can't help but wonder if he died wondering where the "feeling did go."

Prior to me receiving this from Steve in the last few months, I would have had "Chance" just outside of even my top 1000 favorite songs.  3 Big Country songs usually come in front of it -- "Just A Shadow," "Close Action" and "Wonderland," but I find I need the song more today than I need "Wonderland" and it may be pushing "Close Action." I am reminded that for two albums and an EP, Big Country may have been the best new wave act of the time.

"Chance." Big Country.  The Crossing. Mercury Record. 1983. Song link.

Day 2: Midnight Oil "Sometimes."

See complete list here.