Quiet Life

Happy Friday!

Well, I’m not going to point you to the barn-dance kind of venue where the video for last night’s post on Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” takes place, but I hope this song inspires you to get up, move around and celebrate life. Even a “quiet life.”

Japan is a band I told you about before, when I talked about its former lead singer and songwriter, David Sylvian, in my post on his solo song, “Orpheus.” If you were following this blog when I posted about that song, you might have expected that I’d post today’s selection sooner or later.

I still remember when, from age 16 to 18, I would go on weekly record-shopping trips downtown, and remember the day I discovered Japan. Their second record, Obscure Alternatives (1978), was my introduction to the band. They were an amalgam of post-punk and glam rock, with a cloak of dark brooding draped over. Just a year later when they released the album Quiet Life, they had added post-disco synthpop and new romantic to their style, and their sound would be perfect for a nightclub dance floor, especially in the early 1980s.

I can imagine the song playing to a packed dance floor in the club that was attached to the Travelodge on Alpine Avenue in St. Vital, Winnipeg in those years. I can’t remember the name of that bar, but can clearly picture it. Something to do with soda? Club Soda? Or maybe something about Fridays? Maybe not. I don’t know. Anyone here remember? Anyway, the song “Quiet Life” is so representative of that club sound and vibe. But I don’t think I ever heard it played in a bar. The band remained relatively obscure in Winnipeg, Canada, and, other than a friend I introduced to their music, I don’t think I have ever known anyone else who listened to them.

I also recall that in the early 1980s era, fashionable clothing was such a critical component of nightlife. Maybe it still is? I don’t know. I dare say my friends and I (“friends 2.0” at that point, the way I refer to a group that expanded to include some cool kids from St. Vital) looked a lot like the fellows in the band, minus the makeup. That androgynous look makes me think of a memory of walking with my parents among the outlandishly styled fans outside the Liverpool Empire Theatre in 1973, waiting for doors to open to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour. (As I mentioned in my post on “Moonage Daydream,” when talking about rockers’ style in the UK in 1973, the type of clothing in the “Quiet Life” video didn’t appear in my city until a few years later… or at least that’s how I remember it.)

The irony is not lost on me now that in those early 80s, we carried a carefree attitude into our social settings, unrestrained by interest rates of 16% or so on our car loans due to massive inflation at the time. But we were invincible, right? Now, those clubs (well, the current incarnations of the spaces they occupied) are mostly avoided, at least by a lot of folks of my vintage and older, because of an invisible virus whose effects we still don’t fully understand.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of an obviously lip-synched but still pretty cool video set to the studio track of the song from the Japan YouTube topic channel:

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