Gimme Sympathy

The Canadian band Metric released the album Synthetica in 2012. I played it a lot, and bought three versions: there was the original release; the deluxe version (which included several acoustic versions of songs from the album, including “Gimme Sympathy,” the plugged-in rendition of which — and today’s selection — was on their Fantasies album… editor’s note: my mistake; I originally posted that the version used today was on Synthetica!); and the third was Synthetica Reflections, an all-instrumental series of, essentially, variations on themes from the album. (Some of the reflections were included on the iTunes pre-order of the album. I enjoyed them, so I bought the reflections collection later when it came out.)

There is also another wonderful version of “Gimme Sympathy” with string accompaniment, on Metric’s iTunes Session album (2011).

Synthetica is a terrific album, with a lot of high-energy songs. It also includes “The Wanderlust,” on which Metric and Lou Reed collaborated. I believe that was Reed’s last studio recording.

Today’s song also relates to one of my great musical moments, which came late on December 2, 2012: a Sunday “no cover” night at the Rose ’n Bee (on Sherbrook Avenue in Winnipeg; the venue is now called the Handsome Daughter). Our Kieran sang a solo acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,”  dedicating it to me. It was a very moving experience for me to hear someone I love, playing and singing music I love, and him knowing what that would mean to me.

Photo of a young man playing a guitar and singing.
Kieran West, playing solo at the Rose ‘n Bee, December 2, 2012. Photo © Steve West.

My sweety may like today’s video; while the audio is the studio track, the producers made the video as a live, on-set performance, so she still can get a sense of the band’s on-stage dynamic. (Plus, we saw Metric in concert in Winnipeg in November 2012, during their Synthetica tour, so she’ll remember that, too.)

“Gimme sympathy
After all of this is gone
Who would you rather be
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Oh seriously, 
You’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young
Come on baby play me something 
Like ‘Here Comes the Sun’”

(from “Gimme Sympathy,” by Emily Haines, James Shaw)

I love the ethereal way in which the video ends: children dressed in purple costumes with butterfly wings come in from the backlit background, like angels; they flit and dance among the band, then run off the side and out out of the studio, except one, a taller girl with a massive, afro hairdo, who turns back and runs toward the camera as it fades up to the sky. 

Below is the official video from Metric’s YouTube channel. The video brought moments of joy after a traumatic loss and, listening to Metric’s music now reminds me of how much I have enjoyed the album, how it helped carry me for a time and, of course, the memory of Kieran singing a song from it for me. Our children are all gifts to us and we enjoy the time we spend with them; that’s not something all parents get to experience.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day. Thank you for doing me here. I hope you enjoy it.

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