Day 132: A song you like that you learned about from a friend.
“Silent Lucidity” – Queensryche
For as long as I’ve known my friend Ray, he’s been suggesting music to me. Because that’s what friends do, right? You listen to things together and bounce bands off each other and hopefully something new sticks that you can both enjoy.
Over the years, Ray’s success rate for picking songs that I’ll like has been mixed. There are some things he’s (almost) sure I’ll like that I don’t, and conversely I’ve surprised him by liking songs he was sure I wouldn’t. (He was also shocked about me liking The Foo Fighters.) As recently as last week he suggested a few songs to me. Two were from the same band, Beware Of Darkness. The first, “All Who Remain” didn’t do it for me. The second, “Howl” I liked a lot and downloaded immediately. That’s just the way it’s always gone.
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When we were in college, we spent a lot of time together as editors of Newspeak, WPI’s student newspaper (now called Tech News). If you wonder about the long hours, you’ve obviously never spent much time trying to make something written by an engineer readable. Engineers are generally not known for their grasp of composition techniques. They barely have a grasp on punctuation and capitalization. And there often guilty of mispellings and run on sentences, they just type it all out to make their points in the same way that they think and talk since its all the same.
So, yeah, if that last “sentence” made you cringe, imagine going through thousands of words of that. Every week. For nine months a year. It’s amazing we didn’t kill any of them.
But I digress.
A typical editing session would include talking, caffeinated beverages, Minesweeper, pizza and music. Oh yeah, and editing. Can’t forget the editing.
But back to the music. Often we’d bring along music we liked to bounce off the other (and anyone else who was there, since we two pretty much dominated the stereo). For quite some time, he tried to sell me on the merits of Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime album. And while it was okay, and despite the interesting storyline that runs through the album, I never really warmed up to it. He had to wait until 1990’s Empire for me to finally find a Queensryche song I really liked, and that was “Silent Lucidity.” (I wasn’t alone. It’s their only single that’s ever made the Billboard Hot 100 chart.)
I think the thing about them that has really kept me from paying much attention is that I find there’s a sameness about their music. Same instrumentation, same intonation, different song.
By contrast, “Silent Lucidity” is a major departure from anything else on Empire. The arrangement is more traditionally acoustic than most of their material. Orchestral accompaniment is very obvious. And the lead singer is singing in a lower register than he typically does. So it’s almost as if it’s a different band. And perhaps that’s why it stood out to me.
The rest of the songs on Empire, to me, bear a striking similarity in sound not only to each other, but also to those found on Operation: Mindcrime. There’s just not enough variety to keep me engaged. (To be fair, Ray has, in the past, pointed out that I like The Smithereens, which, to him, all sounds the same. So it’s all subjective.)
So he’ll have to be happy with me liking “Silent Lucidity” and take that as a victory.
Psst… That said, I went through some of the previews of Operation: Mindcrime in preparation for this post. And, some 20 years later, I may finally give it another go.
But don’t tell Ray. I’ll never hear the end of it.