Tuesday, February 19, 2013

At the Same Time, You Are Crazy Mind, Crazy Mind

I have a confession to make: I like Italo disco. I once appreciated this genre of music from the safe perspective of “Ha ha — it’s funny because it’s so bad,” but at some point I crossed over and began to genuinely, unironically enjoy the synth-heavy dance tracks produced in Italy and other European nations in the mid-80s. I really can’t explain it, because most of it doesn’t line up with what I would deem good music, though I have theories. It’s possible that I simply got tired of listening to the stable of songs that we post-80s children have come to associate with the era. (I can happily proceed with the rest of my life without hearing “Maniac” or “Tainted Love” again, but I feel like the world isn’t listening to me on this one.) And occasionally, I can squint and imagine some throughlines between these songs and current bands. (Clio’s “Faces,” a.k.a. the song that sounds like the inside of Lisa Turtle’s brain, reminds me a bit of CSS or Yelle, and Mistral’s “Jamie” sounds like early Goldfrapp.) Whatever the case, my intro to this strange genre of ESL dancepop was “Happy Song,” and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to click this link because you may have not asked “what the fuck?” enough today.

You may be surprised to learn that most Italo disco and Euro disco songs feature English lyrics. This is a wonderful thing, because the neither the songwriters nor the singers necessarily have a firm grasp on English, and the songs therefore end up as nonsense garbled out over a dance beat. This is probably most true with the 1987 song “Crazy” by the band Daydream. It so adroitly challenges comprehension that it may qualify as a form of surrealism. After listening to “Crazy” in my car more times than I care to admit, I decided to find lyrics. None appear to exist online, so now I’m cornering the market on weirdos who think too much about the song by posting what I think the lyrics are, plus some commentary that I hope demonstrates why this song is a strange, awful, wonderful sin against logic and sentence construction.

If you want, follow along:



So this song begins by laying down some synth, and the first few seconds could really belong to any track produced in the 80s — American or European. But then there’s what I call the Horror Movie Voice, a deep, creepy voice that pipes in throughout the song. It simply says “Crazy. C-c-c-c-c-crazy,” and repeats itself several times. And that is weird. Then there’s a secondary, more danceable intro that kind of reminds me of Miami Sound Machine. And then 42 seconds in, the actual lyrics start. Here is my best guess at what the hell the lady is trying to sing:
She had enough inspiration to it
It’s maybe too late to change it
Somebody looks at me
I feel something’s at fault
This is the picture
I don’t want to be in the dark
I don’t want to take your love
This is the daydream of the human being
This is the spirit in my living room
I’m not confident about most of those lyrics, and you may have better guesses, but the ones I’m most sure of are the last two, and that’s weird because I would really rather “This is the spirit in my living room” wasn’t an actual lyric.
I turn to me, I escape to me
To whom I think “He got it!”
Me (echoes)
I don’t want to be in the dark
I don’t want to take your love
Everybody more or less are gaily cyber
Everybody more or less are gaily cyber
Everybody more or less are gaily cyber
He must be crazy
No, I don’t know what it means to be gaily cyber, but I could make a few guesses.
At the same time, you are crazy mind, crazy mind
Get off my back; you are the spirit in my hat house
At the same time, you are crazy mind, crazy mind
Get off my back; you are the spirit in my hat house
If I may, I’d like to point out the oddness of a song using the phrase “as the same time,” which is a transitional phrase that a person would use in a logical argument, and then going on to accuse the addressee of being “the spirit in my hat house,” which would be something done by someone making a rather illogical argument. So then there’s a dance breakdown, then a second, different kind of dance breakdown, and then more of the Horror Movie Voice. And then it all repeats, giving you a second chance to mishear whatever she’s trying to say. Then there’s yet another dance breakdown. And then at 4:55 comes the absolute best part: when she raps. Some people may say that what she’s doing maybe isn’t technically rapping, but I’d argue that you could call this “rapping” as much as you could call the rest of the song “singing in English.” In this section, the non-italicized parts are the Horror Movie Voice speaking to the singer.
Who are you [unintelligible — sound like “Bee Bee Gas-a-meaty”]
Want to give this version to me?
The polarizer; I know the frank
I do crazy; I do drunk with that that
Who you think I’m crazy?
I don’t know but get in my butt
Hey you, butt — get in my butt
I don’t know but get in my butt
Okay, I know, but it really does sound like she’s repeatedly saying “get in my butt.” I’m straining to her anything else. I got nothing.
Don’t be afraid
Who is that?
It’s taken her to the 5:11 mark to ask “Who is that?” and I feel like if she doesn’t know who’s been talking to her this whole time, then we’re really fucked, narratively speaking. Like, you should know who’s in the recording booth with you.
I have given you something like your dream
I have found the inspiration

Come. You can beat it.
Don’t be silly.
Just to summarize, she went from “Who is that?” to “Don’t be silly” in the space of a few lyrics.
I have given you something like your dream
I have found the inspiration — the inspiration!
And then the song returns to the “At the same time, you are crazy mind, crazy mind” part and basically does that for a full minute before fading out. I realize that the people who made this thing exist probably didn’t get together and code a hidden meaning into these lyrics, but for the same dumb impulse that prompted ancient man to look up into the stars and see shapes, I hear this jibbertygooble and want to think that someone thought it meant something, or at least that they really did think they were talking to a ghost who was haunting the living room. (Does that happen?) And if anyone who’s made it this far in the post has any guesses — what the hell this song is supposed to be, what the hell these lyrics are supposed to be — do tell.

In closing, I want to dance to this song at my wedding. You probably guessed that.

13 comments:

  1. I love the weird Italo disco songs too! There's an enormous 4 disc comp you can hear on Spotify called "80's Dance Story" that has so much greatness on it. For example, there's an artist called Gay Cat Park. Seriously, WTF does that even mean? There's a song called "A.I.D.S." because who doesn't want to dance to that? And there's some legitimately good catchy music like "Woman" by some chick named Mirage. It's not on the compilation, but my favorite Italo song of all time is Gary Low's "I Want You" which Washed Out sampled the entire song for on his big hit "Feel It All Around".

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    1. Woo hoo. Love how the Portlandia theme is rooted in Euro disco. And that Mirage song isn't half bad.

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNdBSH_Tv2k

    also you might enjoy some Pye Corner Audio, which is a sort of slowed-down sinister version of this sort of music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxIaJTyubxo

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    1. Wow on both counts. I will get the Pye Corner Audio, though. The other one? Post on social media b/c hilarious.

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  3. I think Pye Corner Audio and other modern musicians like that (such as Umberto) are trying to pay tribute to John Carpenter and other horror movie music from that time more than Italo Disco. But I suppose if you slow down a lot of Italo Disco and remove the singing, it would probably fit into an 80s horror movie quite well. Actually that reminds me -- Ford & Lopatin released a rather nice series of mix tapes of slowed-down Italo Disco called "Heaven Can Wait" while they were still called Games. Definitely worth searching for.

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    1. I can hear the odd horror movie music moment in a lot of Italo Disco songs, honestly, even sped-up ones.

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  4. Well some of Pye Corner Audio's song titles are definite disco references.

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    1. I shall investigate and report back.

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  5. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Thank you for this post, it's nice to see that I'm not the only one curious about Italo lyrics...
    YouTube commenters point out that it may be "Everybody more or less are *getting* cyber" and it makes sense... If it's true, then I have to call it the favourite sentence in the whole lyrics.
    Also, I would say that it is a "haunted house", not "hat house". But I have to agree on "spirit in my living room" because nothing else fits. That's the beauty of italo disco lyrics: bizarre pronunciation, bizarre syntax, bizarre words. At least we can have fun analysing them.
    The lyrics make no sense, but the melody is so catchy and beautiful that it makes you listen to the song again and again. :)
    About horror movie noises, I can only think of Sweet Connection - Need Your Passion with chains rattling and doors creaking.

    Best, Agata

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    1. Hey! Thanks for the comment. This is validating, and again, I'm happy I'm not the only one wondering about these things. I do think there's a special quality to these songs, as you say, where the lyrics just don't mean anything and kind of fly off in a new direction. It's almost like the English doesn't matter anymore.

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  6. I think it is not "in my hat house", not even "in my haunted house" (it would make sense though). It is simply "in my hou-house". The first line is definitely "She had no inspiration tonight" (no italo-dance song misses the word tonight... evah!) :)

    The rap:

    girl : "who are you?... ...you want to give inspiration to me, the poor writer. I'm not afraid, are you crazy?...are you drunk or that?"
    spirit: "why do you think I'm crazy?"
    girl: "I don't know, but get off my back"
    I say you, but get off my back"
    spirit: "don't be afraid"
    girl: "who is that?"
    etc

    What the story is about imho: a writer lacks inspiration for her novel (or whatever she is writing) one night. Suddenly an entity ("the spirit in my living room") turns up to help her. But the woman gets scared of this paranormal experience ("Somebody looks at me, I feel something frightful") Somehow she takes a picture of the entity that proves the thing is real ("here is the picture") The spirit seems to flirt with the woman, she rejects him ("I don't want to be in the dark, I don't want to be your love") He wants something in exchange for "the inspiration" he brought to the "poor writer". He is a bit handsy too ("get off my back")

    Along the rap, the argue goes on. ("Don't be silly!" etc)

    Finally, the writer claims she is the only responsible for her inspiration ("I have found the inspiration — the inspiration!"), not the spirit. (THE END) :D

    The "Everybody more or less..." line still remains a mistery to me. I have a theory, but I am not sure so I will keep it to myself for now. :)

    PS: Daydream were spanish, not italian. Here is a "live" version of this awesome song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-Nq91wOWVE



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    1. I fully agree with your entire analysis. You and your theories are amazing.

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  7. guys nobody is gaily cyber they sing

    GABY CYBER

    i had no time to research but i suppose it was some character of some sort or an expression in 80s discotheques as well the CYBER word, could have mean that is living digital in 80s, so nice ...

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