Lost in the middle

I have mentioned from time to time that I moved early this year from Los Angeles to the far south end of Nevada. So a few days back, I was waiting around for a prescription to be filled, and a youngish man in a wheelchair passed by, singing “This Little Light of Mine.” The pharmacy tech behind the counter instantly joined in, and they sang a chorus, waved at each other, then went on about their business. This is one of the things — along with burro warnings on the radio and coyote chatter across the street — that tends not to happen in L.A.

And I don’t really have a segue from that, as we continue our moonstruck wanderings, because I don’t have any specific idea of what the Alan Parsons Project are going on about in today’s moon tune.

Children of the Moon” link for the e-mail people.

“Children of the Moon” is from 1982′s Eye in the Sky, whose nifty title track was the Project’s biggest hit. And, after an ominous boomping opening set around with a military snare, singer David Paton advises,

Pay no attention to the writing on the wall
The words seem empty
‘Cause there’s nothing there at all

And suggests that some kind of religious or political disaster has taken place:

We let the wise men beat the drums too soon
We were just children of the moon

The song then speeds up with a melodic hiccup as the grim truth is revealed:

No one to turn to
Nowhere to run to even if we could

The next verse suggests this may be an environmental-doom scenario, while also making you wonder who he’s talking to (“Too late to save us/But try to understand”), but then the swinging, echoing, couldn’t-be-anybody-but-the-Project chorus zooms us right out into space:

We’re lost in the middle of a hopeless world
Lost in the middle of a hopeless world
Children, children of the moon,
Watch the world go by
Children, children of the moon
Are hiding from the sun and the sky
Children, children of the moon
Watch it all go by
Children, children of the moon
Are blinded by the light in their eyes

The “wise men” of the first verse are madmen in the last: “We let the madmen write the golden rules,” and then there’s a hint of who may be being addressed here: “We were no more than mortal fools.” (Is he speaking to someone who is … not mortal?) After a last chorus, Paton’s Jon Anderson-ish “Hiding from the skyyy” is followed by a nice, throaty guitar solo, then there’s a forced-march fade that is reminiscent of “Breakdown” from the earlier I Robot album.

This is a singer’s song, and Paton is worthy of it, going at it with guts and conviction. And also with the able assistance of Parsons’ production, always friendly to a singer and able to help sometimes quite limited vocalists make the absolute most of what gifts they had. Indeed, Pilot’s hit “Magic” was also sung by David Paton, but there he was forced to duke it out against cheesy, bass-burdened production (and his Scottish accent) and ended up sounding uncomfortable, shouty, and shrill.

Paton didn’t quite have the gift for anxiety Allan Clarke demonstrated on “Breakdown,” but he was given a song that, whatever it’s all about, requires resignation that sounds like it could slip at any moment into panic. And that’s exactly what he delivered. Could do a lot worse than that.

About Bridey

Bridey has been a music nut since falling in love with Elton John's "Caribou" album in grade school (why that one? I was nine). She's a magazine editor by trade who writes regularly about radio, music, and related industries.
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