21 December 2006

8+

"Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix) by Depeche Mode which clocks in at 9:34

Regionally, Waffle House is king in the southeast when it comes to all hours dining but in Raleigh, NC in the early '90s the IHOP on Hillsborough St. was the place to go late-night if you wanted to be amongst the misfits and oddballs. Showing up around 2am you'd never really know for sure what kind of people would be sharing the dining room with you, but it was always a guaranteed freak show of some sort. You were sure to see many drunken college kids. You might see a crack head force his way into the kitchen demanding he be allowed to cook his own eggs just the way he liked them. Or perhaps there'd be a runaway lurking around the bathrooms waiting for the right people to show up that she could take advantage of. Or maybe a family of six, with young children, eating dinner right in the middle of the whole scene. At 3am. As if that was a normal time to take your kids out for steaks at the pancake house. Or, you just might meet a sixty-two year old transient Depeche Mode fan.

Okay, "fan" is maybe taking it a bit far. And transient a bit overly euphemistic. In reality this was a smelly old bum with a portable CD player and a surprisingly dope collection of CDs in his bag.

Right, so one time when my friend and I went to that very IHOP on Hillsborough St. we couldn't help but notice the old man at the booth next to us. He looked like he was homeless, smelled like he was homeless, yet there he was seated with a cup of coffee and cash to pay on the table. This isn't what made us notice him though. What did was the fact that he had headphones on and was listening to some music rather loudly and singing along in broken speak.

"I shot a man...Leeeno....just, die....train.......San Antoooooone..."
"I shot a man...Leeeno....just, die....train.......San Antoooooone..."
"I shot a man...Leeeno....just, die....train.......San Antoooooone..."

Yes, it was clearly Johnny Cash and he had the song on repeat. It played, and he sang, over and over until my friend interrupted him on the third go-around. He invited the smelly music lover to sit at our table but the man declined by not responding in any kind of coherent fashion. In fact, conversation continued, but didn't really go anywhere, and all we were able to get out of him was that he was headed to San Antone. He asked us for a ride. I think. We asked to see his CDs.

I don't remember what all of them were (there were about 15-20 of them) but I do remember a choice few. He had Enigma's MCMXC A.D.. He had the afforementioned Johnny Cash. He had some Air Supply and Buddy Holly. And he had a CD single for Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again". I was floored. I mean, first of all this was an import. It was re-released in 1992 in the UK and you couldn't readily find it anywhere in the States. Definitely not in Raleigh. I know, I'd looked. And that's to say nothing of the fact that I was immediately in love with imagining this guy jamming out to the variety of versions of "Never Let Me Down Again" that were on the disc.

I asked him about it. Asked where he got it, asked if he liked it. He still wasn't responding well to our questions and kept singing "Folsom Prison Blues" and talked of heading to San Antone. I think he'd decided to travel via train at this point.

Then suddenly he collected all of his belongings and stood up and headed right out the door, presumably for Texas. But he left the Depeche Mode single sitting there on the table with his money and cold coffee. I grabbed it and ran after him.

"Hey you forgot this..."

I held out the CD motioning for him to take it. He stopped and looked at me. No response.

"You left it on the table..."

He shook his head no, pointed at me, and said three words very clearly. "No," (pointed at me) "Merry Christmas."

It was March but I wasn't going to try and discuss it. I simply thanked him as he turned and walked away.

I do still have that CD, of course. The version of "Never Let Me Down Again" posted here is my favorite of the four that are on it. Enjoy. And have a Merry Christmas yourself, if that's your thing. Happy holidays otherwise.

Buy Singles Box, Vol. 4 [BOX SET] HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Grateful Dead - “Terrapin Station"
Suicide -“Frankie Teardrop"
Red House Painters - “River"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
The Church - “Chaos"
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

10 comments:

Sean said...

I love this song...but I've never heard this remix. Thanks man!

LB said...

That's a really awesome story.

Taylor said...

wow! what a great story.

and thank god you referenced wikipedia. i mean, otherwise you could've gotten called out for blogger plagiarism for mentioning that there was a CD single of this.

Trevor Jackson said...

I love a good Christmas story, Paul Auster-style. It's got all the necessary details:

--"homeless" guy singing Cash
--IHOP at night
--Depeche Mode
--set in March

Seriously, thanks for a great story for a killer song.

nghia said...

great story. one of my favorite DM mixes.

El said...

Aw. That's very sweet indeed. No doubt I will become a sixty-two year old transient Depeche Mode fan in forty odd years. Then, my vain attempts at persuading my friends to listen to the band will be perceived as sweet and not annoying.

I still love the Aggro remix, maybe even as much as the original mix.

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