Sunday, February 19, 2006

The 15th (1979) – Wire

Apparently, the title of this song prosaically refers to the fact that it was the 15th song Colin Newman had written in a specific batch of songs. This would explain why the lyrics are so oblique that the “it” referred to throughout can mean anything the listener wishes. Conceivably, the “it” refers to the song itself—a cynical interpretation that comports with Newman’s aloof vocal styling. He mocks the haughtiness with which this song will be analyzed, reduced to a mere object, as if opinion were empirical evidence. Newman riddles that the song’s tenuous basis will be its critical undoing; in substance, the song is about itself, and thus about nothing.

“The 15th” is most remarkable in that it was released in 1979, yet it sounds like something Interpol aspires to. This is not to say that it fits some retro revival template to be mined every twenty years by the hipster kids; rather, it means that the gist of Wire’s ideas was so fundamentally cool, that it was always worthy of being emulated. From its rote downstroked guitars, nonchalant synthesizer, stilted drumming, and rudimentary guitar riff, to Newman’s ambiguous lyrics, the stolid “15th” was always relevant to those for whom emotional detachment was de rigueur.

  • Not available from iTunes Music Store.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I just discovered this site. Yours is an excellent analysis of The 15th.

    I look forward to reading the other entries contained within this site.