Spandau Ballet – True
It was mid-April 1983 when Spandau Ballet released “True”, definitely one of their signature songs. Actually the song had been known since about a month, because in early March, they had released the album with the same title, heralded by another great hit such as “Communication“. The album contained other pearls such as “Lifeline” which they released about six months earlier, and “Gold” which they would release a few months later. Definitely one of Spandau Ballet’s most successful albums, along with “Parade” and “Through the barricades”.
Then, some songs always come better than others, and that’s a fact. But “True” in the space of a couple of weeks climbed the charts in more than twenty countries, and quickly became one of the great classics of the group.
Gary Kemp composed the song in his parents’ house, inspired by a real, romantic, unspoken but very strong feeling. During a show of “Top of the Pops”, Gary had met Scottish singer (and later actress) Clare Grogan, who at the time was part of a group called Altered Images. And Clare (without “i” in her stage name) had entered his heart, and although the feeling never became physical, Gary arrived, by his own admission, to go all the way to Scotland to have a tea with Clare and his parents.
The song, however, does not really tell their love affair; more than anything, from Gary’s perspective, he tells how hard it is to write a love song, if you’re not sure about expressing your feelings. The song, however, as we have seen, refers to a very specific person, and according to Gary Kemp, the lyrics are full of references to events or moments that he and Clare have lived together. She once gave him a copy of “Lolita”, Nabokov’s masterpiece, and he put in the lyrics a series of references to this text, such as the “seaside arms” that echo a similar phrase referring to Lolita, and other quotes that he on purpose made less recognizable.
For the melody of the song, Gary Kemp took inspiration by Marvin Gaye, that he greatly admired. Martin was still alive atthos times, and Gary even mentions him explicitly in the lyrics. The video in in absolute new romantics style, with a glamorous Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp playing guitar instead of Gary, who sits at the piano completely dressed in white.
Some songs come better than others, we said. In this case, they had barely finished to record it, that already all the staff was singing the song. Steve Norman had been playing sax for just about one year and, as he recalls, he had learned a limited number of solos… He plays one, and becomes one of the most famous solos in the history of pop and the 80s! In short, many things chained together and made this beautiful song one of the unforgettable milestones of the 80s and of Spandau Ballet.
Sometimes it can be hard to write the next verse of a love song, but then you find that you’ve written the next verse of 80s history!
Spandau Ballet on Wikipedia