Depeche Mode – People Are People
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
In the careers of the main groups of the 80s, especially in those careers that have lasted for decades and still continue today, there are of course turning points. Sometimes the members of the group change, sometimes the style changes, sometimes authors and producers change.
1984 was a year of change for Depeche Mode. Famous at home for the great success of their eponymous album, which had presented to the public songs such as Blasphemous rumours and Love in itself, they were now dealing with new topics, and were also introducing more gloomy sounds. On March 12, 1984, Depeche Mode released an absolutely great song, which they never really loved too much.
The song is People are People. It was the first single from their new album Some great reward, which was not yet complete and would be released in Autumn. This album, like the previous one and the next, was recorded in Berlin, so it is likely that Depeche Mode were inspired, in their evolution, by some new trends they saw in that incredible center of musical innovation.
In fact People are people is not yet a dark song like the ones that will follow, but compared to the previous ones it touches on a less material and absolutely ethical theme, namely the equality of people regardless of everything. We can certainly say that it is a song against forms of racism and prejudice against people different from us. This was at least Martin Lee Gore’s interpretation of it, and he was the one who wrote the text.
The band’s percussionist Alan Wilder, however, who created the rhythm and actually completed Gore’s lyrics, added another meaning: the song is actually against war, against wars in general. And in fact Depeche Mode must have shared some of this interpretation, if the video was shot aboard a British warship, the Belfast cruiser of Her Majesty’s fleet.
The song was a resounding success not only in Europe, but also, for the first time, in America (where it came out a few months later), and in fact launched this great group towards the last market that was still to be conquered. Yet, as we said, it was not and still is not among Depeche’s most beloved songs, and for many years they did not play it in concerts.
According to Gore, in fact, the song was too explicit in lyrics, and too commercial in sounds. The all-too-clear verses did not leave much freedom of interpretation, which previously distinguished his compositions and Depeche Mode songs. The sounds are actually perhaps less gloomy than others, but I would say that they still absolutely maintain the sounds and characteristics that always identified Depeche Mode.
There is a curious story about this period: it seems that when Depeche Mode entered a recording studio to work on a new album, they immediately asked where the kitchen was. Not because they were hungry, but because they often used a more primal method to get sounds to sample: they took pots and lids, and threw everything down the stairs recording the sounds!
People are people, therefore, shares the same fate, for example, as Don’t you (forget about me) for Simple Minds: perhaps it is not the most intimate song they have written, and perhaps it has moved a little away from the new wave atmosphere, but it remains in fact the song that made them known to the general American and European public.
Depeche Mode on Wikipedia