Octopussy

As the epic that is Seamonsters draws to a close, there’s one last grab of the heart to come. The setting is Winter and snow is in the air  (I always think of this song when I see snow fall). As alluded to in my last question below, I started just drifting off into a soft layer of love when I first listened to this song. But over the years, the song has changed somewhat, the same way snow can turn dark and mucky, as different potential interpretations of the song came to light. Mr Gedge’s answer doesn’t really help us much.

I think I still prefer to think of how I did with those innocent ears from 1991: a beautiful poignant love song, stuck inside with my significant other, curled up by a fire as the world turned white outside.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

I’m fascinated with sequencing on albums. You have tended over the years to end albums with quieter/gentler tracks. Is this something you favour and if so why?

DLG: I guess it has been something of a theme, ha, ha. It’s typically very ‘Wedding Present’ to not finish an album with the obvious album-finisher, I think! So we’ve tended to have something loud and dramatic as the penultimate track and then followed it with a softer track to act as a kind of a postscript.

The title references, of course, the James Bond film of 1983. Why did you choose this for a title? What is your favourite Bond film and who is your favourite Bond?

DLG: I’m fond of referencing popular culture and in this case this film title just seemed to fit the song. I’ve always thought it was a bizarre title, actually; it makes more sense when you read the original Ian Fleming short story.

It’s as hard to compare Bond films these days as it is to compare Wedding Present albums! The style has changed so much over the years that it’s difficult to compare something like ‘Octopussy’ with ‘Skyfall’ or even ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ for example. Likewise, a favourite Bond actor sometimes means he just happened to appear in your favourite style of films. Until Pearce Brosnan got the job Roger Moore was always my favourite Bond… even though some of his later films weren’t always of the, erm, highest calibre. Having re-watched the early films recently I’m now thinking that Sean Connery really did set the standard of actors being how you’d expect a ‘Bond’ to be. Daniel Craig, on the other hand, I think is the least Bondlike of them all.

What do you think of cover versions of your songs in general? There’s a version of Octopussy on one of the Dare albums (the Orange Slices cover albums), did you like it?

DLG: I like cover versions of any songs as long as they add something to the original.

Similar to your recent Valentina release by Cinerama, I’ve often wondered what some Wedding Present songs would sound like in alternate versions. I’d love to hear Octopussy done in the way Mystery Date was, just vocals and piano. Ever thought about doing something like that?

DLG: I have, yes. As usual it’s just finding the time. I was inspired to re-record Mystery Date with just piano because I really enjoyed the version of Don’t Touch That Dial I recorded with the BBC Big Band in 2009 and I have definitely have plans to do more so maybe I’ll add Octopussy to the list!

The line about the snow at the start is so evocative – do you write this in Winter or were you just conjuring up this image in the middle of a heatwave or something? 

DLG: My lyrics are generally written over very long periods [in that I will note ideas down in my little book and then possibly not use them until I find the right moment, which could be possibly be several years later] so I’ve no idea when I actually wrote that down!

At the time of release I just listened to this song as being a beautiful love song. So many romantic little lines and a sense of blurry wonder. Many years later and the song became corrupted for me somewhat by fans mentioning that the lyrics sounded to them a bit weirder and perverse.  Specifically, the lines about “you’ve become my family”, “you don’t take away my hand like you ought to” and even, “you laughed and pulled your knees up to your chest” all could hint at maybe something a lot darker. Would you comment on this and let us know what the song is really about?

DLG: Nope. As you know, I’d rather the lyrics speak for themselves. I personally think it’s more satisfying for the listener if they’re not having their hand held. I don’t really even like printing lyrics on sleeves, although I’ve started doing that recently, of course. But that’s as far as I’m going!

Official Lyrics:

Some bits of snow still hanging in the air but that’s outside
Take off your clothes and lie down over there (oh, that’s just right)
I sat by this window and just watched for you (no, you weren’t late)
There was a thousand things I had to do (they can all wait)

You don’t take away my hand like you ought to
You’ve become my family
I don’t want to understand why I need you
You’ve just become my family

I lay down there and watched you getting dressed (it’s still so clear)
You laughed and pulled your knees up to your chest if I came near
God knows, I’ve always had to fear the worst (but not that time)
You brought me home and then you kissed me first and you were all mine

You don’t take away my hand like you ought to
You’ve become my family
I don’t want to understand why I need you
You’ve just become my family

You don’t take away my hand like you ought to
You’ve become my family
I don’t want to understand why I need you
You’ve just become my family

We don’t have to do anything
We don’t have to do anything except watch the leaves turning in the wind
Say what you want to say
We don’t have to go anywhere
We don’t have to go anywhere (let’s just sit and talk about the usual things)
I couldn’t move anyway!

Written and published by Gedge [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV]

Studio Version:

1 – Seamonsters version released 28/05/1991 TIME: 6:19

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Simon Smith (drums) Engineer: Steve Albini

Live Versions:

1 – Seamonsters deluxe re-issue released by Edsel Records in 2014 [EDSJ 9006] TIME: 6:13
(originally issued on Live Tape 10 Uppsala)

Recorded 13/11/1991 at Barowiak, Uppsala, Sweden
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass);  Simon Smith (drums) Joe Hickey (engineer)

2 – Live in Leeds version released by Scopitones  (download only) in 2010 TIME: 6:55
Recorded 06/06/2006 at Metropolitan University, Leeds
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Christopher McConville (guitar & mixing); Terry de Castro (bass);  Graeme Ramsay (drums)
seamonsters-2
R-4951894-1380394524-9571.jpeg

Live:

 After the song’s debut in the live sets of 1991, the next time it fully appeared was after the re-formation in 2006. It was also part of the set in 2012/3. It also featured as part of the fabulous French Black Sessions in 1992.
Covers:
There’s a version by Midflight on the Dare 2 tribute album. Also, have a listen to this version on youtube by Janelle LaMarche
Videos:
10/01/2012 – Paris Trabendo
08/11/2012 – Liverpool O2
11/02/2013 – Sydney Annandale Hotel
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