Sunday, 5 August 2012

Nik Kershaw - So Quiet

Before I was about fourteen or so, my knowledge of Nik Kershaw's music consisted entirely of the three songs that came free with the Weetabix Top Trax cassettes from the mid-80s': I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Wouldn't It Be Good, and Wide Boy. I probably grew up hearing them several thousands of times and so - whether by choice or just simply through overdosing - they became favourites of mine. Eventually, a decade or so later, I decided I wanted to explore more of his music and so requested a copy of his 'Best Of...' album for my birthday. On the collection, amongst the familiar songs and the several other hits that had passed me by, were some remixes and B-sides. One of them, So Quiet (a B-side to Wide Boy), I particularly like.

I suspect my enjoyment of it is down to its simplicity. Whilst certainly not trying to take anything away from Kershaw's song-writing or his producer's skills, So Quiet stands apart from the others on the collection (and from the majority of his back catalogue) due to it lacking any of the frills and effects that can be found elsewhere. Aside from some synth-strings emphasising the chorus, the song essentially consists of just Kershaw's vocal and a piano accompaniment of broken arpeggios and occasional solid chords. Had it been selected as an album track, perhaps it would have been subjected to further layers of instruments, but personally I cannot imagine a version with drums or guitar: its wonder is in its simplicity.

(Incidentally, I keep meaning to sit down, listen to the song and try to transcribe the song's piano, as I've never come across any official piano music anywhere. If I get around to it, and if they turn out okay, perhaps I'll post the results here)

Lyrically the song isn't especially verbose, with short verses and the oft-repeated titular lines. Again it seems that simplicity is the key to the song but, despite this, it is clear that it talks of loss. One could easily infer that it is talking of the end of a relationship (certainly there is a great deal of love involved), but I suspect it more strongly implies death.

"I thought I heard a sigh,
As you waved the world goodbye,
While the snow lies o'er meadows like a shroud"

Although perhaps short on lyrics, the words that Kershaw has included seem to be delicately chosen and shine through beautifully (like the one above, and the one below).

"So when I think of you,
I think of violet and blue,
And all the things that make you stand out in a crowd"

There's sadness present in the acceptance of a goodbye, a smile in the memories that remain, and just a brief moment where perhaps the grief is allowed to take over in the calls and wails before the middle-eight. Finally, as the song reaches its end, there is a sense of irresolution with the last chords' weak cadence ringing out - suggesting that nothing is ever entirely over.

"Those who wish to sing, always find a song." - Swedish Proverb

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