Tuesday, 30 September 2014

My Top Ten Invisible Songs

After flight, invisibility would be my super power of choice. Still, while I may never soar like a bird... lately there are times I do feel extremely invisible.

When I started planning this post, I felt sure there'd be space for Genesis - Invisible Touch and The Police - Invisible Sun. And you know me, usually I'd have no shame about such inclusions. However, neither really made the grade this time round. Apologies to Sting and Phil Collins fans. You must feel just awful.(Heh.)

10. Bruce Springsteen - Hunter of Invisible Game

This year's "new" Bruce album turned out to be a bit of a contract filler, containing a bunch of songs left over from his last LP and some re-recordings of earlier stuff (the new, rockier version of The Ghost of Tom Joad was arguably better than the original).

Therefore, because Bruce didn't have to spend any time writing new material, he chose instead to become an actor and filmmaker. The internet seems divided on whether that was a sensible move or not. For all its fancy filmmaking, this feels like a Bon Jovi video. And hey, I have nothing against Jon Bon... but Bruce has always been a step above.

Still, at least it's better than Courtney Cox.

9. Primal Scream - Invisible City

Bobby Gillespie goes for a wander round town and chronicles the charming inhabitants he encounters along the way...

Flashing lights, police cars
Polysexual gutter stars
Brutal stares, skinhead crops
The corner boys look like their dogs
Kebab shops, pubs and mosques
Lapdancing clubs, synagogues
Police stations, crack house zombies
Readers' wives, suburban orgies

Pissed up girls, Kia-Ora tans
Mini skirts, one night stands
Up the duff, sun bed thighs
Missing father all their lives
Rain wet streets
Hallucination, stretched faces
Like a Bacon painting...

8. Kate Bush - How to Be Invisible

Kate finds a book of spells, the best one promising invisibility...

Eye of Braille
Hem of anorak
Stem of wallflower
Hair of doormat

Yeah, like Kate Bush could ever be invisible!

7. Paul Weller - Invisible

Another song about growing old. I've been listening to a lot of these lately, for some reason...

There was a time
I though every hair on my body was alive
Yes it was
Now you can't even see
The grey and the dye
I'm not one to give up

But I feel I'm at a loss

No Grecian 2000 here... just in case you were wondering.

6. Alison Moyet - Invisible

There are a lot of crass numpties comparing Alison Moyet to Adele purely because both have enjoyed huge success despite not being stick insect thin... or taking their clothes off all the time in their videos. There's even a ridiculous internet rumour going around that Alison is Adele's mum. Sometimes, people are just too stupid to be allowed to draw breath.

Anyway, Alison Moyet - what a voice! It's a shame that the 80s production makes some of her best records sound a little tinny to modern ears, but Invisible is still a classic.

5. Modest Mouse - Invisible

Not sure what this impassioned Waits-ian rant from Modest Mouse is all about, but there's one line I do get:

No, you're not invisible inside your car...

How many drivers do you see every day that actually think they are?

4. Queen - The Invisible Man

Remembered fondly from the height of my Queen-addicted adolescence, this one owes much to John Deacon's throbbing bassline... ironic as, in many ways, Deacon was (and remains) the Invisible Man of the group. Also featuring an amazingly tacky computer-game influenced video that could only have been made in the 80s. Amazingly, Freddie makes those sub-Max Headroom shades look cool.

3. Aimee Mann - Invisible Ink

Aimee Mann's voice pours through my ears like world-weary honey. And that songwriting...!
But nobody wants to hear this tale
The plot is clich├ęd, the jokes are stale
And baby we've all heard it all before
Oh I could get specific but
Nobody needs a catalogue
With details of love I can't sell anymore
2. The Twilight Sad - That Summer, At Home, Had Become The Invisible Boy

The title comes from Stephen King's The Stand. The song: an epic, building behemoth of jangling guitars and angry lyrics that express teenage frustration and alienation perfectly.

1. Elvis Costello - The Invisible Man

One of my all-time favourite Costello songs, from his finest album (imho). Not being one to include lyric sheets with his earlier records, I spent a fair amount of my teenage years with headphones glued on, puzzling over the playful intricacies of Elvis's songwriting. The Invisible Man is a pretty straightforward idea in which Mr. C is cast as The Invisible Man because, as the fade out lyric explains "Now you won't see me..." It's the lyrics prior to this that gave me the most joy though, particularly the glorious chorus...

But if stars are only painted on the ceiling above
Then who can you turn to and who do you love?
I want to get out while I still can
I want to be like Harry Houdini
Now I'm the invisible man

And then there's the backing - thundering piano rolls from Steve Nieve and the powerfully uplifting sound of the TKO Horns who backed much of this record and made it the brightest and most life-affirming in the Costello canon...

Can you see me? Do you hear me? Will you leave a comment so I don't feel quite so invisible today...


  1. Dang it - Kate Bush was all I had.

    And if only that were true.

    1. I'm sure she feels there was a similar missed opportunity on her part...

  2. Was all ready to dive in with The Police, but of course you've got that covered...

    So a tenuous offering: You Won't See Me by some Scousers or other...

  3. Frickin' A! What a great blog. I;m a volunteer DJ at a local, non-commercial radio station in Bozeman, MT (Check us our here: www.kglt.net, we stream live!) Your blog was is fun to read and has given me some ideas for my show. I'm also hoping it will inspire me to write about more more on my blog. Good day to you.


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