Music and British Identity: Depeche Mode


Primary members: Vince Clarke, Andrew Fletcher, Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder
Band Biography
Albums of focus: Construction Time Again (1983), Some Great Reward (1984)
Songs for study:

A note about Depeche Mode's Construction Time Again:

"The major technical advance on Construction Time Again is that it was the first time we used sampling. Vince Clarke [former Depeche Mode band member] had already bought a Fairlight that he used on the first Yazoo album [Clarke's new band], Martin bought the first Emulator and I bought this ridiculous system called a Synclavier. We were not sampling from records, we just went out sampling from the world around us and recorded anything that made a sound. Martin brought in all these weird toy instruments and Eastern instruments and we started testing all the possibilities. The track that epitomised this technique was "Pipeline." The song was already there so we went out to a derelict building site in Shoreditch [a then grim area of East London]. We only used sounds from the building site for the backing track but to complete the concept we had to get Martin to sing in the same location. We had two tape recorders, one playing back the track so he could monitor it, and the other recording his vocals. It was right beside the railway line, so if you listen carefully you can hear trains going past and other random noises." - Daniel Miller (note: the same Daniel Miller from The Normal, Crash music)

"Pipeline" - from Construction Time Again (1983)
Get out the crane
Construction time again
What is it this time
We're laying a pipeline

Let the beads of sweat flow
Until the ends have met through
Could take a long time
Working on the pipeline

Taking from the greedy
Giving to the needy

On this golden day
Work's been sent our way
That could last a lifetime
Working on the pipeline

From the heart of our land
To the mouth of the man
Must reach him sometime
We're laying a pipeline

Taking from the greedy
Giving to the needy

 

"Everything Counts" - from Construction Time Again (1983)


"'Everything Counts' was the first single. It came out just before the album and did well, reaching number six in the British charts. It was very different from their previous hits and was a big step forward sonically, musically and lyrically. I remember the NME [New Musical Express, major music publication in Britain] did a big feature portraying the band as young Marxists after the journalist made the connection from the lyrics and the album sleeve which resembled a Soviet constructivist poster. It wasn't really accurate—they were heartfelt lyrics but I don't think the band ever aligned themselves with any political movement." - Daniel Miller

The handshake seals the contract
From the contract there's no turning back
The turning point of a career
In Korea being insincere
The holiday was fun-packed
The contract, still intact

The grabbing hands grab all they can
All for themselves - after all
The grabbing hands grab all they can
All for themselves - after all

It's a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts

The graph on the wall
Tells the story of it all
Picture it now see just how
The lies and deceit gained a little more power
Confidence - taken in
By a suntan and a grin

The grabbing hands grab all they can
All for themselves - after all
The grabbing hands grab all they can
All for themselves - after all

It's a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts

The grabbing hands grab all they can
Everything counts in large amounts

"Two Minute Warning" - from Construction Time Again (1983)
We're lying by the orange sky
Two million miles across the land
Scattered to the highest high
Expect they'll either laugh or cry
No sex, no consequence, no sympathy
You're good enough to heat

Two minute warning
Two minutes later
When time has come
My days are numbered
The dawning of another year
Marks time for those who understand
One in four still here
While you and I go hand in hand
No radio, no sound, no sin, no sanctuary
So welcome to your last

The sun, the solitude, the cemetery
So welcome to your last

 

"Shame" - from Construction Time Again (1983)

Do you ever get that feeling
When the guilt begins to hurt
Seeing all the children
Wallowing in dirt
Crying out with hunger
Crying out in pain
At least the dirt will wash off
When it starts to rain

Soap won't wash away your shame

Do you ever get that feeling
That something isn't right
Seeing your brother's fists
Clenched ready for the fight
Soon the fighting turns to weapons
And the weapons turn to wounds
So the doctors stitch and stitch
And stitch and stitch and stitch
And stitch and stitch
Surgery won't improve your pain
It all seems so stupid
It makes me want to give up
But why should I give up
When it all seems so stupid

Do you ever get the feeling
That something can be done
To eradicate these problems
And make the people one
Do you ever get that feeling
Something like a nagging itch
And all the while the doctors
Stitch and stitch and stitch
And stitch and stitch

Hope alone won't remove the stains
Shame

 

"Lie to Me" - from Some Great Reward (1984)

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say I'm the only one

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say I'm the only one

Experiences have a lasting impression
But words once spoken
Don't mean a lot now
Belief is the way
The way of the innocent
And when I say innocent
I should say naive

So lie to me
But do it with sincerity
Make me listen
Just for a minute
Make me think
There's some truth in it

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say I'm the only one

Promises made for convenience
Aren't necessarily
What we need
Truth is a word
That's lost its meaning
The truth has become
Merely half-truth

So lie to me
Like they do it in the factory
Make me think
That at the end of the day
Some great reward
Will be coming my way

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say I'm the only one

 

"People Are People" - from Some Great Reward (1984)
People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

So we're different colours
And we're different creeds
And different people have different needs
It's obvious you hate me
Though I've done nothing wrong
I've never even met you so what could I have done

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

Help me understand...

Now you're punching
And you're kicking
And you're shouting at me
I'm relying on your common decency
So far it hasn't surfaced
But I'm sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel
From your head to your fists

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand (repeat 6x)

"Master and Servant" - from Some Great Reward (1984)
It's a lot, it's a lot, it's a lot
It's a lot, it's a lot, it's a lot
It's a lot ... like life

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees

We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

It's a lot like life
This play between the sheets
With you on top and me underneath
Forget all about equality

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant

It's a lot like life
And that's what's appealing
If you despise that throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Domination's the name of the game
In bed or in life
They're both just the same
Except in one you're fulfilled
At the end of the day

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant

Let's play master and servant
Come on master and servant

It's a lot, it's a lot, it's a lot
It's a lot, it's a lot, it's a lot
It's a lot ... like life

It's a lot like life
And that's what's appealing
If you despise that throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Let's play master and servant
Come on master and servant

"Blasphemous Rumors" - from Some Great Reward (1984)
Girl of 16
Whole life ahead of her
Slashed her wrists
Bored with life
Didn't succeed
Thank the lord
For small mercies

Fighting back the tears
Mother reads the note again
16 candles burn in her mind
She takes the blame
It's always the same
She goes down on her knees
And prays

I don't want to start
Any blasphemous rumours
But I think that God's
Got a sick sense of humour
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing
Girl of 18
Fell in love with everything
Found new life
In Jesus Christ
Hit by a car
Ended up
On a life support machine

Summer's day
As she passed away
Birds were singing
In the summer sky
Then came the rain
And once again
A tear fell
From her mother's eye

I don't want to start
Any blasphemous rumours
But I think that God's
Got a sick sense of humour
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing (repeat to fade out)

"People Are People" - live TV performance (March 1984 on The Tube)

Note: Notice the use of instruments: synthesizers and construction equipment (corrugated sheet metal and pipes) from a building site.

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

So we're different colours
And we're different creeds
And different people have different needs
It's obvious you hate me
Though I've done nothing wrong
I've never even met you so what could I have done

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

Help me understand...

Now you're punching
And you're kicking
And you're shouting at me
I'm relying on your common decency
So far it hasn't surfaced
But I'm sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel
From your head to your fists

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand (repeat 6x)

 

Here is an example of one of Depeche Mode's earlier, pre-Construction Time Again hit singles:

"Just Can't Get Enough" - live TV performance on British programme Swap Shop, 1982

 


 

GRAFFITI STUDY WALL: MUSIC & VIDEOS
SEX PISTOLS
KRAFTWERK
THE CLASH
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.
JOY DIVISION
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
AU PAIRS
COCTEAU TWINS
ARTERY
HUMAN LEAGUE
HEAVEN 17
THE SPECIALS
CABARET VOLTAIRE
TEARS FOR FEARS
DEPECHE MODE
THE SOUND
THE GLOVE
STEEL PULSE
THE CURE
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS
GANG OF FOUR
NEW ORDER
U2
THE POLICE
CRASS
NEW MODEL ARMY
ELVIS COSTELLO
SPLIT ENZ
THE THE
XTC
THE EXPLOITED
DISCHARGE
THE SMITHS
THE HOUSEMARTINS
RADIOHEAD
PORTISHEAD
PET SHOP BOYS
M Y BLOODY VALENTINE
SLOWDIVE
CRASH MUSIC
MUSIC OF THE TROUBLES

VIDEOS:

SEX PISTOLS
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES (LIVE)
THE CURE (LIVE)
COCTEAU TWINS (LIVE)
NEW ORDER (LIVE)
PORTISHEAD (LIVE)
JOY DIVISION MINI-DOCUMENTARY
NUCLEAR WAR PREPAREDNESS: PROTECT & SURVIVE MANUAL