Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Changes Made

The odd track out on Music for a New Society, Changes Made was added at the insistence of John Cale's record label, Ze. (Sez he: "... That shouldn't be there.") Given that Cale had founded said label (with his manager Jane Friedman) as Spy Records three years previously, it must have been an irritating turn of events. Also at Ze's request, he recorded a rather dire-sounding promo video that was never released.

One reason it doesn't fit is that it's the only song that features a band. The vocal and production do seem to fit with the New Society sessions, but otherwise the song would fit well onto Honi Soit. Musically, it's a syncopated major-key new wave skronk-and-squawk session (with three separate and extremely tasty guitar tones). The vocal is a typical Honi Soit/New Society vocal in that, due to odd pauses here and there, you can't tell whether he's making up the lyrics on the spot. It's an impassioned vocal but nevertheless fits well into the pop framework. The sole concession to noise and atonality on the track is the squealing viola that comes in at the 2:15 mark and stays for the duration of the track. (Oh, and listen to his vocal babbling on the fadeout - it's one of the most amusing moments in the catalog.)

The other reason it doesn't fit: its topic and emotions don't seem to fit the album at all. At first blush, it seems a straightforward ultimatum for personal change: "there's gonna be some changes made 'round here." Whether he's talking to himself, a friend or a lover isn't made explicit. The middle eight injects a bizarre metaphor by seemingly referencing the Children's Caravan - or was he thinking of the Children's Crusade? In either case, I have no idea whatsoever what that's about.

It's an outlier on the album, to be sure, and it shouldn't fit between the devastated "Chinese Envoy" and the gutting Beethoven pastiche "Damn Life." But it rather does, or at least doesn't stick out too much. I doubt that its addition forced a superior song off the album, as the only known outtake is "In the Library Of Force." In any case, I don't begrudge the song its place on the final album. It provides a moment of light and energy that the album needs.

(Listen to a sample here, if you're so inclined.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oddly, I find that this song is the one that perfects the whole album. Somehow it's placing, though absurd, seems to completely typify and complete the album when listened to all the way through, as well as summing up Cale's entire oeuvre, if that word is permitted. That's what I think anyway keep up the good work with this blog; it's really interesting!