My Top 1000 Songs #522: The American

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Freshman year of college, my Canadian roommate was really into European, mostly synth-based new wave. A lot of OMD and Simple Minds, as a I recall. I didn't necessarily dislike it, but I was particularly obsessed with American indie music at the time--R.E.M., the Replacements, Husker Du, various Paisley Underground bands, etc. So we'd have frequent battles over our suite's stereo. (Yes, kids, college dorm rooms used to have a dedicated stereo system, as opposed to multiple iPhones streaming Spotify via Bluetooth. Crazy!)

One song I distinctly remember him playing, typically as a full-blast weekend rave-up, was "The American," from Simple Minds' 1981 LP Sister Feelings Call. It was striking--a big booming heavily-reverbed anthem, that distinctive "Ameri-Ameri-Ameri-Americ-American" refrain--but I was a little too into college radio jangle to pay it much mind.

Eventually I warmed to the non-US stuff, particularly as I fell in love with bands like New Order and the Cure. And while I never got that into Simple Minds, I ultimately circled back to some of the records my roommate used to spin. (OMD's Junk Culture was one record he liked that I later came to love.) And, yeah, turned out that Simple Minds record, especially "The American," was pretty cool. The disorienting mid-measure cold start; the keyboard/guitar interplay; Jim Kerr's world-conquering vocals. Belated apologies to Mike for being so dismissive at the time!

Full bombast, live 1984:
Acoustic live 2015: