My Top 1000 Songs #293: Life In A Northern Town
Is this one a guilty pleasure? I suppose. It's a little cheesy, the production a bit bombastic, sounding nothing like anything else I was listening to back in 1985. But, still, the song has always captured my imagination, and I can't help but find it charming and emotionally rich.
The self-titled debut from Britain's Dream Academy offered a mix of New Romantic/New Wave and Smiths-like melancholy with some shades of lushly-orchestrated dream pop. I can't say I play it (or the band's two subsequent albums) very often, aside from when they come up on shuffle play; though there are some choice nuggets to be found. ("Edge of Forever," which showed up in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is another stand-out, a great new wave pop single.)
But it was "Life In A Northern Town" that grabbed and held my attention. The song got some traction on both mainstream and college radio, and the video managed some MTV play time, and I picked up the album largely on the strength of the single (and the fact that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour produced the record). It's a beautifully melodic song, the wistful, jangly, strings-drenched verses and that rousing chorus with the booming percussion and vast "hey ma ma ma" choir.
Are the lyrics a little too much? I dunno; their evocative imagery works for me, conjuring nostalgia that isn't mine but feels like it could be. "A Salvation Army band played, and the children drank lemonade, and the morning lasted all day. All day."Alternate video:2016 reunion performance: