Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wire Map Ref 41°N 93°W & Show # 427

Wire’s 1979 single 'Map Ref 41°N 93°W' is perhaps one of the coolest songs written about geography. The song was inspired by travelling through the US and the music reflects that. With its spacious guitar and melodic repetitive bassline, the song sounds like driving or travelling, it has a certain mystical quality to it. As a result it stands out amongst the tracks on 154 which was the album that it was featured on. 154 reflects a more fleshed out Post Punk Pop sound that was first displayed on their 1978 release Chairs Missing on songs such as “Outdoor Miner” and “I Am The Fly”. The songs that make up 154 are different than their previous two albums.  If Pink Flag was barebones Punk with some Garage tendencies, Chairs Missing built upon that sound with more of a New Wave sound adding more melody to the songs, 154 was the culmination of all those releases building on the sparse catchy sounds that they began developing the year before. The bands experimentation with sound and song structure always added to what made their music so interesting, as would be the case with 154. 

If you were to look up the songs actual co-ordinates Map Ref 41°N 93°W you would find Centerville, Iowa, something that was determined by Wire bassist Graham Lewis when writing the lyrics to this song. The song lyrically is a realization based on travelling through the US. Graham Lewis elaborates more in Wire … Everybody Loves A History:

"'Map Ref 41°N 93°W' - There's actually a place called something like Centretown, Iowa. The song is about travelling. I flew from L.A. to New York in 1978 and crossed the mid-west, and it went on and on and on and on. It was just incredible that this grid system was imposed on an enormous stretch of land. The other verse refers to travelling through Holland, by road, seeing all the dykes which is another grid system. 'Curtains undrawn' -- seeing these blocks of flats, like dolls houses with people sitting in them all day with curtains undrawn. It's a travelogue."

When 'Map Ref 41°N 93°W' was released as a single it did not chart. The b-side to this single was the song “Go Ahead” a song that was not featured on the 154 album, it has very foreign sounding guitar rhythms, having an overall almost industrial Joy Division sound.  The lyrics to the song bring up chart positions and media coverage, which could have been influenced by the prevented success of their “Outdoor Miner” single from 1978’s Chairs Missing, the song was prevented from having chart success due to a payola scandal at the time. But returning to the a-side, when listening to the track you can hear its transcendent quality as the chorus hits with the lyrics “Interrupting my train of thought/ Lines of longitude and latitude/ Define and refine my altitude”, one can’t help but think of the lines that intersect in this song. Wire’s longitude and latitudes may have taken many adventures musically and while this singe wasn’t a large success commercially, it displays Wire at their best at that point in time in their career in the centre of their own musical landscape.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Obits – Let Me Dream If I Want To
2. Modern Superstitions – Black Moon
3. Random Variables – High School of My Heart
4. Lou Reed - Romeo & Juliet
5. Built To Spill - Dystopian Dream Girl
6. The Stoves - Can't Slow Down
7. The Zellots - Soldiers
8. The Gruesomes - Leave My Kitten Alone
9. The Fall - Couldn't Get Ahead
10. The Pointed Sticks - The Witch
11. Papermaps – Break
12. Dum Dum Girls – Season In Hell
13. Laughing Clowns – Law of Nature
14. The Vaccines – Bad Mood
15. Wire – Map Ref. 41° N 93° W
16. Pere Ubu - Final Solution
17. Modest Mouse - Cowboy Dan
18. Neil Young - For The Turnstiles
19. Black Lips – The Ballad of Ray Marsh (Outtake)
20. Public Image Limited - Annalisa

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for October 23. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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