Brit Beat

Nov 9, 2011 at 6:00 am
Brit Beat

Enjoy the silence 

Ahh, what bliss is this! The echoic state of my eardrums is sending me on a path to aural nirvana. No, I am not listening to that soothing Irish saucepot Enya, nor am I chilling out to a chorus of Tibetan monks humming on a French trance track. I am listening to pins drop.

Since my baby was born five months ago, the chance to hear nothing has been even more appealing to my Britney Spears (that’s Cockney rhyming slang for ears, FYI) than the thought of Led Zeppelin reforming. He’s not particularly loud, my boy, but he is consistent: He gurgles, he cries, he laughs and he screams the whole time he’s awake. So when he finally checks out for the evening at 9 p.m., I can’t even be bothered to put the television on. I just sit in an exhausted heap, praying the silence will last for at least six hours.

I made the schoolboy error of YouTubing the new Coldplay song “Paradise” last night as I was bedding down a few hours after the noisemaker. After just one listen, that darn catchy chorus got stuck in my head and went round and round until 1 a.m. That was bad enough, but paired with the mental image of Chris Martin riding a tricycle in an elephant costume (see the official video), sleep was entirely impossible, despite the external tranquility. This kind of pop-driven insomnia is the last thing a new mom needs. I shall avoid all nasal rock bands, post 10 p.m., from now on.

Perhaps I should take my lead from my offspring and just listen to classical music in the hours leading up to bedtime. His crib mobile has two buttons to press: one for Mozart and one for Bach. These composers are supposed to make him more intelligent or something. That’s what some yummy mummy told me, but who knows if it’s working. I caught him licking his own reflection in a mirror the other day. At 5 months old, he is still a noble savage, however much rocking to Amadeus he does.

Silence in music — as contradictory as it sounds — has been a cool thing since the ’60s. I’m thinking of those hidden tracks that sneak up on you as either A) an extra treat or B) something to make your heart stop in a bad way, if you’re overly jumpy. Allegedly, The Beatles were the first to do this. “Her Majesty,” which is preceded by 14 seconds of silence, was the unlisted last song on Abbey Road. The Jam originally hid “English Rose” on the album All Mod Cons because Paul Weller believed it to be so personal and special. Nirvana had an extreme adoration of nothingness between their tracks, making fans wait a full 10 minutes to hear “Endless, Nameless” at the end of Nevermind. And the wait was worth it for Lauryn Hill, who won a Grammy for her hidden track “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” in 1999.

And finally, to my favorite ditty celebrating tranquility … and the dissipation of an urban myth. I had long thought Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” was about lead singer Dave Gahan’s well-documented love-hate relationship with hardcore drugs. All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms—injected, I’d been told by teen music know-it-alls when I was a teen myself, straight into his arms. But not so, it would seem.

After some proper research, I can reveal that the song wasn’t written by Gahan during an artificial high, but by Depeche Mode’s chief songwriter, Martin Gore, who was renowned for writing about dark passions and romanticisms and wanted fans to use their own imagination while listening. Phew. I can start thinking of it as a heart-wrenching song about adoration and lust once more. Which is good, because seriously, nothing puts a downer on a slow dance like the disturbing vision of a diamorphine-drizzled Dave, foaming at the mouth, while you’re trying to smooch your beloved.

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