The Sundays were an indie rock quartet from London who were active between 1988 and 1997. Starting in 1990, they released three proper albums and a small handful of singles. They’re perhaps best known for their song “Here’s Where The Story Ends”, which propelled their debut album Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic to #4 on the UK album charts and to #39 on the Billboard top 200 in the USA. That’s pretty remarkable for an indie act to have that kind of crossover success with their first record. “Here’s Where The Story Ends” was never released as a single in the UK, but it was in the US, and it reached #1 on the indie charts for one glorious week.
Another song that they were known for was their incredible cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses”. That song was a b-side on the “Goodbye” single in the UK, but it was an album track from Blind in the US. When it showed up in Budweiser ads in the US, it once again put them in the mainstream spotlight. The thing about that is that they didn’t even know that it was being marketed like that.
Their definitive thing is the jangly, bright pop aesthetic with the often somber lyrics to contrast. And that singer Harriet Wheeler was (and probably still is) hotter than twelve suns. She and her then boyfriend David Gavurin (guitar) met at university where Wheeler was studying English Literature and Gavurin studied Romance Language. They had no musical background, but they wanted to start a band anyway. They enlisted bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patch Hannan. A bit of trivia for you: Hannan was this close to being the drummer for The Field Mice, but something didn’t work out there.
After the critical success of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, the band went on a quick tour of the UK and the US, and got quickly to work on their second record.
Blind was released 20 years ago today (in the US), and a day earlier in the UK. I remember the day. It was a rainy, gray day. I had an early class that morning, and I walked over to the record shop to buy Blind as soon as the doors opened. On my way back to the dorm, I was stopped by a girlfriend of a friend. She wanted to chat my ear off, but I only had one thing on my mind. I made some excuse to walk away from her, and I spent the rest of the day in my dorm room listening to this record.
Blind didn’t enjoy the same success or the same accolades that Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic did, but I still love it all the same.
Tonight’s song has always been one of my favorite songs from the record, and in fact one of my favorites from their whole catalog. This is that song.
“Love” by The Sundays
This song has a faux string section buried in the mix. I’m not a huge fan of that in general, but I like it here.
I guess the meaning could be argued. “Find a silver lining in the dark cloud”. “Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks”. Some combination of the two. It’s only sort of cheery, no matter how jangly and bright the guitar bit is.
This is my life and it’s all very well, but never, never, never again
As they say, “We’ve been robbed”
And don’t you know that this time
Love, love, love
Just love yourself like no one else
Love, it’s enough
They can say what they like but they still can’t take that
Life’s not a rose garden, but love yourself and you’ll be okay
That’s how it starts off, anyway. Later in the song, there’s a slightly different tone. More like: “this doesn’t have to suck. I deserve better”.
If you don’t have a clue about life
Then I’m happy, happy, happy to say neither have I
but I’m not going to shrug my shoulders & suck my thumb
’cause there’s something I deserve
And then, still later, another different tone. More like “we’re all gonna die anyway, so you may as well love me”
Picture my house in a postcard town
Picture a bomb in the sky
History at the door, who could ask for more?
I’ve felt better, I’ve felt better
So kill me with love
It’s a strange twist there. Earlier in the song, she sings “I’ve felt better, I’ve felt worse”, as if to say “this is a bad day, but it’s not that bad”. Here at the end, there’s no “I’ve felt worse” to balance the “I’ve felt better”. However, this is all while saying “Kill me with love”
I guess there’s a lot that I’m not getting.
I’m not in, um … love … with the 1970s-style fadeout to end the song, but I still adore the song.
The Sundays always have been one of my favorite bands, and my experience of seeing them on consecutive nights in February of 1993 was one of my favorite music-related experiences ever. Read all about that, including the brilliant “Harriet, you’re the spawn of Aphrodite” story here.
You can buy Blind here.
And you can enjoy the video for this song, in which Harriet is in her full “spawn of Aphrodite” glory: