When I heard this song recently at a venue, I was absolutely mesmerised by the main refrain. It’s one of those things that has a personal dimension which you know is also connected to a cultural force or instance (like a song and a particular time, the feeling of its uses and what it evokes).
Alongside that was the simple feeling that when you are finally given the refrain (this was remixed by Martin Rushent in 1982 a year after the original Dare album had been released) it is absolutely striking. It feels like as a sonic instance, it has gone into the culture and resides there as something everyone knows or can respond to in an accepting way.
For me personally, it had the flash of an unknown memory, something remembered as remembered, but with no actualy memory to go with it. It is the faculty of memory or remembrance seeing itself by its absence, a thread through to a mist. This was all the more powerful because of the potency of the refrain and its feeling of absolute unity across its different parts, they come together and generate something deliciously cosmic.
It is particularly striking as a refrain as it is a flight. It is specifically a flight upwards, that goes into a high space and then returns back again to where it began. When it is at its highest aspect it trills and echoes in the heights before turning back downward, it is a flightist’s joy sound, aided by those short upwards shooting electronic dub lines, accompanying our flight in the specialness of its polyphony.
I was particularly struck by a feeling of the parochial in the lyric ‘Norman Wisdom’. Not someone I am used to thinking about in a particularly powerful way and yet after this song, I had the vague feeling that Norman Wisdom’s comedy could be seen as something that travailled as a kind of bumpkin-working class heart of gold, against the imposition of upper classes and their stratified, power laden self-importance. The fact that it was (abstract machincally) named Norman Wisdom, was the culmination in seeing that this was the arrival and imposition of the Norman’s to the english social formation. Their wisdom being that they would create a reification of the class structure that creates an impossible divide beyond which they reside, this being the imagined basis of their power, that they are simply there and that their ontology includes the normality that they rule and have power.
In this respect, Norman Wisdom becomes a critique of the power-wisdom of what arrived with the Normans (which if it is only used to enslave or ensnare is wisdom in name only) and by which, his usual social/incompetent antics end up demonstrating that outside the convention of social micro-fascisms of competence are traverses of circumstance and apparent haplessness that can easily and always unthinkingly outspar the conjoinings of miserablist power-entitled class feeders.
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