Friday, 17 June 2016

50 songs to take to my grave #49: Interstate 5

I originally wrote this for my Genius of David Gedge series and it first appeared in September 2014. I said at the time I was considering it for this series as well, and it remained on the shortlist as I approached the last 10. In the end, it had to get into the final list and the Weddoes become one of only a few acts to make both my songs and albums series (albeit very different incarnations of the band). I've tweaked the original article a bit, but most of it remains intact.

OK, briefly for those of you who don't know the story. The Wedding Present went on hiatus in 1996 while Gedge indulged in a new project, Cinerama, with girlfriend Sally Murrel. The couple split in 2003 following the release of Cinerama's third album 'Torino'. He continued however, recording a new album. It was after the recording had finished that it was suggested the new record, entitled 'Take Fountain', sounded more like a Wedding Present album due to its proliferation of guitars. And so it was decided - after a layoff of some eight years - the Wedding Present were reborn.

The first fruit of these labours was a song I consider to be among the best David Gedge ever made. Interstate 5 could be described as a bit of a slow-burner. In fact, it's a bit slow, full-stop. At six minutes long, it was never going to be a radio hit either. It's a curious choice of comeback single, yet it took my breath away. It's a great song, all about a bloke's consternation at being used by a woman as a one-night-stand, a typical Gedge juxtaposition of the perceived sexual norms.

  I have this nagging fear / That sex was all you needed
  I tried to persevere / I guess I've not succeeded

It does build gradually - starting with a single repeated chord, overlaid by a chiming second guitar playing a simple melody. The rhythmic pulsing of that same chord runs throughout the song, rarely giving way until the bridge when Gedge acknowledges there were doubts about the femme fatale's motives at the time of the episode in question:

  And yes there was one particular glance / That made me afraid
  That you were just seeing me as a chance / Of getting laid

The resentment of the protagonist is felt in the closing minute and a half as those guitars get louder and more agitated at our hero's predicament. There's no doubt that Instersate 5 really was a mission statement from the boy Gedge - the Wedding Present were back! I agree, this was no Cinerama track. The album emerged to rave reviews and much joy at the return of one of indie music's great names.

That in itself raises an interesting point though - it was only a name. The record was recorded as Cinerama, only a late decision to attribute it to the Wedding Present really drew people's attention to it. Would it have been so hailed as a Cinerama record? Would I have cared so much about a new Cinerama record? Discuss.


Here's the astonishing video recorded in locations the length and breadth of the UK. One of my favourite vids of all time in fact.

1 comment:

  1. It's such a great song that I think we'd be raving about it no matter which of the banners it was released under.

    Agree with you that it is one of the finest of Mr Gedge's songs and that is really saying something.

    It's easily the most memorable video he's ever made. Grabs you in and you can't take your eyes off the screen the whole time.