My first encounter with you was in 2010 at Lit Lounge in Manhattan. Despite being filthy, sticky and way past its prime, the place was packed and brimming with the unmistakable loud of drunk people screaming to be heard over music. I was drinking a nightcap with friends, attempting to stay enthused despite my preference to drink nightcaps in an actual bed.
The sweet sound of your synthesized bassline broke through the din and constant stream of indie dance pop which permeated the city’s bars back then: Cut Copy, LCD Soundsystem, Chromeo, The Juan MacLean, et al. Fine enough artists on their own but taken en masse it’s easy to overdose.
I expressed my intrigue to the gang and all I got was “You’ve never heard this song before?” and “Something about it reminds me of ‘Genius of Love,'” neither of which was much help. My ears were on high alert, not unlike a dog hearing it’s owners voice. I struggled to make out your lyrics so I could Google them in the morning and answer some burning questions: Who wrote you and when? Is that crooning I hear over your quirky disco sounds? Are you trendy throwback or a genuine original? If you’re an original, where have you been all my life?
Despite being a few drinks deep and up hours past my bedtime, I managed to get home and eventually wake with “I hope to God you’re not as…” swimming around in my brain. I couldn’t complete the lyric but, brimming with excitement, took to Google with high hopes.
Thankfully other people had found themselves in a similar situation which allowed me to piggyback on their quest and get some answers.
Who wrote you and when?
Orange Juice in 1982. Orange Juice was a Scottish post-punk band fronted by your writer, Edwyn Collins, who would later go on to record the ubiquitous 90s hit “A Girl Like You” (fittingly included on the Empire Records soundtrack; slightly less so on Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle). For the general public, that song’s success far eclipsed his previous work. Edwyn seemed like a one-hit wonder to most people, despite having a treasure trove of distinctive music under his belt.
Is that crooning I hear over your quirky disco sounds?
Indeed it is. What would Sinatra have thought if he’d come across you back then (assuming that as a 67-year-old he did not trifle with edgy young Scots)?
Are you trendy throwback or a genuine original?
You, my friend, are fortunate enough to be a genuine original. Edwyn must have known you were an oddball, coming from a band who was previously known for their jangly guitar-driven sound. Still, he went with his gut and recorded you, making you the only Orange Juice song to hit the UK charts.
Where have you been all my life?
Hidden in plain sight. I recall a conversation from 2005 where a friend asked “Have you listened to Orange Juice? They were a big influence on Belle & Sebastian.” The answer was no, so the same friend kindly introduced me to “Falling and Laughing” and “Simply Thrilled Honey.” Both songs are enjoyable, but do they take me to that special place you do? Not exactly.
So thanks to you, I dug deeper into the Orange Juice catalog and eventually learned about Edwyn’s remarkable recovery from a cerebral hemorrhage. I want to give him and all his songs a great big bear hug. It’s impossible to count how many times they accompanied me on the way to work or the number of times your melody and lyrics have happily stuck in my head.
Crooning and disco. Who woulda thought…? Your sound isn’t for everyone, but it’s perfect for me.
Rip It Up