Talk Talk

The opening track on the 1982 debut album by English new wave/synth-pop band Talk Talk, led by singer Mark Hollis (1955-2019), is “Talk Talk.”

Reading up on the song this evening, I learned that Hollis’s previous band, The Reaction, recorded and released it in 1977 as “Talk Talk Talk Talk.”

That’s a lot of talk.

Based on the lyrics, the song seems to be about communication difficulties and abusive behaviour, particularly but not solely in romantic relationships. “Talk Talk” has played on my random morning play of Apple Music, a list of which contains a lot of songs by bands whose music I’ve posted about on this site. While it’s played, I’ve thought a few times how its themes are echoed, albeit on an incomprehensibly more consuming scale, by horrific acts being committed in Ukraine. There’s so much conflict around the planet, and so much of it is rooted in how some treat others.

Hollis’s vocal is accompanied by a (primarily) electronically-played fast tempo punctuated by urgent and electronic drumming, staccato piano, and varying synthesizer melodies that play above and below the bounding beat of the electric bass. (I’ve been listening intently to the synthesizers this evening while hearing it and reading little bits on it, like in Wikipedia.) The many sounds in the song combine to create a strong sense of, well, angst.

But that aside, it’s also a great song that has a beat and musicality that makes me recall 1980s post-disco, post-punk cabarets where recorded music started a serious run against the late-night, live-band bar circuit. (Often, a song would be remixed in an extended, dance-oriented version specifically to be played in 80s clubs, and many such tracks are getting new purchases and plays due to the 2020s resurgence of disco. Come to think of it, the song has probably played on random playlists in part due to my preferences as well as complementary songs from earlier eras making comebacks on media like online disco shows.)

“Hey

Well, did I tell you before when I was up?
Anxiety was bringing me down
I’m tired of listening to you talking in rhymes
Twisting around to make me think you’re straight down the line

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

If every sign that I see is complete
Then I’m a fool in your game
And all you want to do is tell me your lies
Won’t you show the other side, you’re just wasting my time

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

When every choice that I make is yours
Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
Don’t you ever stop to think about me
I’m not that blind to see that you’ve been cheating on me

You’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down
I see you when you’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk”

“Talk Talk,” by Ed Hollis, Mark Hollis.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com

As I hear and read those words, I get a sense of the frustration—and quite likely, fear—the singer could be describing. Relationship conflict or global conflict: it is all hard, and when there isn’t a desire to communicate openly and honestly, it just gets more troublesome. I have learned an awful lot about communication, am still learning, and think I still have a lot more to learn. As I’ve learned, though, it’s helped me become more present and contribute to relationships.

Honest communication… I think that’s the yearning the composers, Hollis and his older brother and mentor, Ed Hollis, were writing about. And it’s something the world needs. For starters.

“Talk Talk” comes from The Party’s Over (1982).

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 the remastered, 1997 version of the song from the Talk Talk band YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

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