Some of Them

Some of them are changing day to day
Some of them flicker then they fade
Some of them are triggered off by any crazy thing

Some of them are all that’s left
Some of them are just dead regrets
Some of them are shining out through everything I see

Some of them
Some of them
Some of them

Some of them are brittle, some are sad
Some of them are aching, some are glad
Some of them are gone so long they’re hard to recognize

Stand close to the long parade
Watch them passing by in their million ways
Walk on through the evergreens
Pass from scene to scene through all these yesterdays

Some of them are friends just as they were
Some of them are gentle, some can flare
Some of them are crowding closer every passing year

Some of them live in photographs
Some of them still give me a laugh
Some of them I’ve altered slowly as they’re changing me

Some of them
Some of them
Some of them

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.

By the time it came to their third album, Systems Of Romance, Ultravox had established themselves not only as one of the biggest live draws on the circuit (performing over 70 shows in 1978) but they had come to fulfil Seamus Potter’s prophecy and cast aside the “musical crutches” that much of the music press had accused them of leaning on rather heavily – at least on their first release. The band were all accomplished musicians, working at the height of their collective form, and front man John Foxx was writing songs that (at least in the most part) stand independent of the film, art and literary references that allegedly ‘propped up’ some of his previous compositions.

While it could be argued that as a result the lyrics lack some of the intellectual layers, textures and context of pieces like “I Want To Be A Machine” or “HIroshima Mon Amour”, it is readily countered that Foxx has matured as a songwriter and is feeling more confident now, his own observations and subject material ready to be heard through his own voice. Having gathered and absorbed his influences, he is now setting them in his own context, creating his own reference material for the plethora of bands that would ultimately come to cite Ultravox as a source of their own inspiration.

That is not to say that Foxx is writing about different things. The songs still relate the observations of a man walking the streets of a city, watching the people around him – and of not quite being a part of it. He still writes of detachment and dislocation. Of change, and of longing.

And it is the latter sentiment that is expressed here, in Some Of Them. It is a ‘list song’ and as such quite a new venture for Foxx, writing in a style that he had not used before and seldom has done since. Drawing on sentiments expressed in earlier songs like ‘My Sex’ and ‘Slip Away’, Foxx is reflecting on lovers and relationships. Here is an inventory of “all the bodies I knew” (and those he wants to know), the lovers who wrote the letters that lie in the grate…

The city as memory. Faces and feelings sparked off by a reflection in a shop window, a street corner.
A park, a handshake or a style of clothing. A door that we have not noticed before.
Hauntological psychogeography. Any crazy thing…

Memories are real, they walk with us. Moments stay, and follow us wherever we go. The past IS the future.
Strange how moments last so long. Always with you, long after they’re gone.

Some are unstable, vague. Flicker and brittle. Like old film, stored safely in a can but too fragile to be viewed. A glimpse perhaps on a Super 8mm home movie. A short, shaky sequence of someone we once knew. An uncle, a grandmother. This sequence maybe all we have left.

They are ghosts. We stand on this hill over looking the town below us where they pass by. Spirits drifting. A crowd of yesterdays, their outlines and identities obscured by longing. Those we wish had never been, walking hand in hand with others that should have been. Instead, or as well. In a glance of their passing eyes we see situations, and personalities. Some eyes we avoid lest they trigger recollections we would rather not acknowledge. Others make us smile.

Still others pass, that we wave at gleefully.
Holding up a photograph or a postcard. “Remember this!” Hey, those were the days…”

And slowly, while watching, nodding, longing, we feel layers of living skin dust peeling of us. Like endless strata of silk, unravelling and following the passing crowd. Golden motes drift off on the breeze and we are changed. Ever changing, as fragments of others take their place. The experiences we have and the memories of them filter slowly into our veins. We are altered imperceptibly slowly by all of them and they become an eternal part of our composition. We breath memories and moments and live upon them as an essential component of the air around us. We process some, absorb others.

Some of them will provide enough material for forty years of creative expression.
Some of them are in the room beside you now

Some of them will always be this way

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