Thursday, 2 July 2009

"The Bats Have Left the Bell Tower"

Okay, so after just having posted a belated update yesterday, I thought I'd make up for that belatedness by a brief additional offering here and now.

The thing is over the last few days I've been more or less obsessed by one specific song. I've had the original single version (taken from the 1998 compilation Crackle) in the music player on my cellphone and both that version and a very good live version (taken off the brilliantly titled live album Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape) have been played extensively at Spotify. Simply put, I've listened and re-listened to it, and then listened some more.

At this point, I'm betting some of you might be wondering, "which song is he referring to?" (Although I'm sure a few may also have cracked the riddle, if not by the post title then at least by the album references.)

I am, of course, speaking of Bauhaus' brilliant song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (appo-pologies to those who don't have Spotify) with which they hit the music scene in 1979. It's a track, which clearly is foundational for the entire goth rock genre, and Bauhaus are considered the founding fathers of that genre (arguably together with Joy Division with whom they share many characteristics), while still having clear punk sensibilities at the same time (consider a track like "Dark Entries" for instance).

Anyway, the track is hard not to like. It has atmosphere, no– correction, it has great atmosphere. The lyrics are on the verge of poking fun at the whole genre of early horror films (Bela Lugosi, for the uninitiated, was the original Count Dracula on film), but Peter Murphy's vocals give the words an almost uncannily sombre mood. Lines like
the bats have left the bell tower
the victims have been bled
red velvet lines the black box
bela lugosi's dead
simply become a haunting celebration of a past era, an old film genre and an older literary genre still. This is part of the beauty of the song, and also part of the beauty of the band.

Murpy's vocals and the eerie musical atmosphere of the band can also be heard very clearly in the song "Hollow Hills" (the first one I ever heard by the band and immediately fell in love with). Especially the live version from Press the Eject... recording, where the distorted guitars soar almost out of tune like a screeching banshee.

Anyway, this is what has more or less possessed my ears and mind for the last couple of days, repeatedly. And I just wanted to share the wondrous sounds and atmospheres.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, your post make me want to watch the movie Ed Wood again. ;-P