A Foreign Country: Depeche Mode

A Foreign Country is a non-regular series in which I write about music I dug in my youth and still enjoy now. The name comes from the L.P. Hartley quote “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”, because, while I do continue to enjoy some of the music I listened to in my early days, my tastes have changed since then (thank fuck for that) and even the songs I still like are heard through different ears.



Depeche Mode


Depeche Mode initiated me into puberty.

This is an exaggeration, of course. I had already been a fan of Depeche Mode – then composed of Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder – for a couple of years when their album Music for the Masses was released. I was 14, and the album brought DM up so high in my estimation that they might have even had a chance of knocking Duran Duran from their throne as my favorite band. It was a great album, an evolutionary step forward in their career, rich and meaningful. And one of those meanings, the one that spoke loudest to my hormone-addled mind, was sex.

In retrospect, though, I see that it wasn’t about sex: Depeche Mode introduced me to desire. I had no solid concept of sex, but songs like “Behind the Wheel” (you’re fooling no one with your clever car allusion, Mr. Gahan) and “I Want You Now” stirred up heat and longing inside me, a deep, full-body-and-mind desire that wouldn’t be elicited by another person until several years later.


“I Want You Now” – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode I want you now Lyrics


The thread of desire is stitched heavily throughout the Depeche Mode catalogue from Black Celebration on – “Stripped”, “World in My Eyes”, “I Feel You”, etc. – reinforced by the feminine and feline sensuality displayed by frontman Gahan onstage (“I’m basically an overpaid stripper,” he recently said about his stage presence), and backed by sometimes throbbing, sometimes slinky rhythms.


“Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode


The band’s career has had its peaks and valleys, as would any career that’s been going for over 30 years – ever-mounting success, followed by Gahan’s struggle with drug addiction, Wilder’s departure, and some uneven albums – but Gore, Gahan, and Fletcher have managed to hold on, with their nails dug in deeply. And with the release of the first single, “Heaven”, from their forthcoming album Delta Machine, the band may be poised for a new wave of success.

“Heaven” – Depeche Mode


There is some sense of personal pride in watching a band you’ve loved since your formative years continue to produce new music as inspired as this when you’re firmly ensconced in adulthood.

Delta Machine is slated for release on March 26, and Depeche Mode will be touring the world throughout the summer.


Depeche Mode Official Website

Depeche Mode @ Twitter

Depeche Mode @ Facebook

Friday Link Session


  • Morrissey has been diagnosed with a pre-cancerous throat condition, but he’s determined to be back on the stage next week. Check out Louder Than War for more details. Best wishes, Moz.
  • Continuing in the artists-of-the-’80s-who-remain-mighty vein, Depeche Mode have made a video for their lead single, “Heaven”, from their forthcoming album Delta Machine. Watch the video at Stereogum and tell me they shouldn’t be tapped for the next Bond film soundtrack.
  • Dinosaur Jr. made a stop at World Cafe recently, complete with characteristically painful interview segments.
  • Hearth Music posted a trailer for the upcoming Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis” to their Tumblr. The intriguing-looking movie is based on the memoirs of folk artist Dave Van Ronk.
  • Cleveland’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest has chosen its dates and venue for this year. Mark August 16 through 18 on your calendar, NEOers.
  • Stupefaction has posted a documentary called “The Britpop Story”. No prizes for guessing what it’s about.
  • Set some time aside for “Wattstax” the documentary of a 1972 concert festival of Stax artists in memory of the 1965 Watts riots. The Staples Singers, Albert King, Isaac Hayes, and Rufus Thomas in pink shorts and white go-go boots – you don’t want to miss that.
  • Closing it out this week, check out our friends Field Report performing their beautiful “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” for Live Nation Labs.

Soulsavers: Longest Day


The Soulsavers first came to my attention through their work with Mark Lanegan on It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land, and I was bowled over from my first listen of “Revival”.

(Do this: In the evening, after dusk, when the sky is deep blue, just before black, turn out every light and turn on “Revival”. Turn it up loud enough to fill the room and immerse yourself in it as if it was the sea. Feel it push and pull you, gently drift you, threaten to smash you against the jagged rocks just off the coast. Do nothing but listen, let it turn into a meditation. And when the song is over, slowly emerge back into the world, like walking out of the sea onto the sand. Feel a little water-logged, a little battered, with salt in your mouth and grit in your hair, but somehow cleansed)

The band have also put Richard Hawley, Will Oldham, Gibby Haynes, Mike Patton, and Jason Pierce in the singer capacity. This time around, with The Light the Dead See, the Soulsavers are collaborating with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan – who is a self-professed Soulsavers fan and “Lanegan junkie”. Take a listen to “Longest Day”.


Soulsavers – Longest Day by Cooperative Music


By all accounts, the recording was an effortless and magical experience, even despite Soulsavers’ head man Rich Machin being hit hard with a case of tinnitus shortly after the process began. The end result will be released May 22nd.


Soulsavers @ Facebook

Soulsavers @ Twitter