Three-Way Sampled: Spandau Ballet – “True” (and the lyrical truth)
Spandau Ballet and their latest release, ”The Story” the Very Best Of, can be found on iTunes.
by Walter Price
The year 1983 found your sonic world expanding beyond Lionel Richie, Bonnie Tyler, Hall & Oats, and Joan Armatrading. That particular year found new genres moving into your periphery. Something called modern rock was moving in and the subgenres were growing and expanding faster than the speed of allegro moderato. Bands like New Order, Talking Heads, Soft Cell, and Yazoo were captivating your senses. Then in April of ’83, you discovered you were romantic, a ‘new romantic’ when you heard a song titled “True” from a new-to-you band calling themselves Spandau Ballet.
What was it about this unrequited love song. This song that seemed to feed and soundtrack your young yearning soul. Was it Tony Hadley’s come-hither delivery, or the whispery harmonies? Did you use your schooling and unfold the references? Perhaps it was just a beautifully positioned song for the times. Whatever the reasons, you knew this hit you all the right ways and it would be everlasting.
In an interview with The Guardian, songwriter Gary Kemp solved some of the mysteries behind the track, explaining, “I wrote the song at my parents’ house, where I was still living at the time. As a working-class boy, I wouldn’t think of moving out till I got married. I was infatuated with Clare Grogan [the Altered Images singer and star of Gregory’s Girl]. I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, traveled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song, True, which became the name of our 1983 album, too.
“True is about how difficult it is to be honest when you’re trying to write a love song to someone. Hence: “Why do I find it hard to write the next line?” The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare. I’m still berated for the line “Take your seaside arms” but it’s straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although, in the book, it’s “seaside limbs”. The line “With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue” is also a bastardization of Nabokov. I don’t want to embarrass Clare. I was 22 and she was 18. True was really a song about me and my idea of love.”
Now that the truths be known, I found it a good idea to find three examples or perhaps ‘samples’ of “True” that may be new to you.
PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
Queen Pen – It’s True
Nelly – N Dey Say
Tony Hadley – lead vocals
Gary Kemp:- guitar, piano, synthesizers, backing vocals
Steve Norman:- saxophone, backing vocals
John Keeble:- drums, backing vocals
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