Someone Else’s Clothes

Check out some memories I don’t recognise
Another country and another life
Oh oh

I find I’m strolling on a distant shore
To meet someone I’ve never seen before
Oh oh

I’m wearing someone else’s clothes again
Walking in the streets I know again
Back in the old familiar glow again
I’m wearing someone else’s clothes

Painting quiet pictures in my ear
We’re driving fast without a wish to steer
Oh oh

Driving underneath the deep blue sleep
I’m always surfacing in summer sheets
Oh oh

I’m wearing someone else’s clothes again
Walking in the streets I know again
Back in the old familiar glow again
I’m wearing someone else’s clothes

Transfer me into a Saturday crowd
Or merge me back into a factory town
Oh oh

I’m waking up to such a splendid moon
I’m making love with someone andI don’t know who
Oh oh

I’m wearing someone else’s clothes again
Walking in the streets I know again
Back in the old familiar glow again
I’m wearing someone else’s clothes

Lyrics © John Foxx.

Thoughts on the text © Martin Smith and translated from birdsong.
Link to the post by all means, but please don’t reproduce the content without permission.

You know those moments when you just drift off on the tide? Sometimes a little too far, and your thoughts manifest into a kind of daydream? You wake up and realise that you’ve been miles away…
Such are the times when we waltz back through our own timelines, visiting the places we’ve been and re-engaging with people we once knew. Absently reflecting on these experiences, it can be as if they happened to someone else. Another version of ourselves that we hardly recognised. The scenes of a former life are played out on the conscience like film sequences, and we watch from our detached state at the back of a huge white cinema where there are only three seats, set against the farthest wall.

Throughout this song, Foxx plays with identity, time and space. He narrates the sequences in the first person, but speaks from different perspectives and dimensions. His almost-spoken voice comes in from different dimensions as the song progresses. At some point looking back at himself as An Earlier Man, walking though ‘another country’ visiting memories he has long since forgotten, meeting an unidentified someone. There is a sense that it will be a woman, but – in typical fashion – their identity remains an undisclosed mystery, leaving the listener to superimpose their own situation onto the scene.

The act of “wearing someone else’s clothes” not only makes the protagonist unrecognisable to himself, it brings the persona of a third person in to the mix. Each of us, to a different extend, takes on qualities, characteristics and other effects of all the people we have met. They each leave traces. The ashes of a laugh on our sleeve as we brush against them. Dust of roses and the vaguest hint of perfume. In the silence of our thoughts, echoes of others connect us with remembered situations. Foxx has recently discovered a grey suit in an Oxfam shop, purchased it and uses the suit to literally ‘disappear’ in to the Saturday crowds. In the suit, he becomes invisible, undetected by those around him and feels he can move more freely, detached from expectation. The Quiet Man.

And how he rejoices in that freedom! The exuberant, expressive chorus is sung with more passion and vigour than the verses. “Yes, now I’m here, back where I belong. Now you can’t see me at all,  and I can walk and dance and drink and sink with interchangeable enemies and friends. I like it here, it’s warm and familiar. I can slip through any crowd, and me and my shadow, we just dissolve. And I can be someone else – I can be ‘me’!!”

The movie projected before us – for you are now beside me – changes pace erratically. Scenes move across our screens slowly, quietly and we feel ourselves drawn into them, only to bounce of the glass as it were that of a speeding train. At times it is almost uncontrollably fast and we hang on, flicking our eyes, seeking an image we can hang on to and re-establish ourselves. No need to steer, we are on a moving stairway. In a rollercoaster cart. There’s no-one driving…

Some places are familiar – a distant beach somewhere, or a factory town in the industrial north of England. It’s still 1958 there, and the moon still rises silver over the rolling moors, lighting the chimneys and warehouses with a cold, white light and shadows. That’s me look, walking up the hillside. I can see myself waving at someone in the distance. Is that you? Surely, it must be?

Don’t you remember that hat? You picked it up one day from the market in Corporation Street.
I have never really liked it.

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