Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up
Songs and work have always been a delicate combination, especially when it comes to the songs of workers in desperate conditions. And often, from despair, great music was born. The first example that comes to mind is blues, with its origins in the songs of slaves working in cotton plantations in the southern United States, probably originally inspired by even older tribal songs.
The 80s are generally remembered, at least in Europe and the United States, as an era of great positivity and creativity, an era of great hopes that were fulfilled, an era of unbridled dreams, even though we know that much of it was pure appearance. This does not mean, however, that there were no periods of social tension. In many countries tensions remained and were often vented in music. The clearest example is the United Kingdom, which at the beginning of the 80s was in an untenable situation due to unemployment and discontent, and which through Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government made the transition to a more modern and liberal state, but also went through moments of high tensions and strikes.
Tears for Fears’ critique of “politicians Granny” in Sowing the Seeds of Love is clear, as was Everything but the girl’s in When all’s Well, for example. There were many other, more nuanced positions, perhaps not explicitly directed at the prime minister, but more general against a system that required sacrifices and gave too little in return.
Thompson Twins, a group that really gathered on the road, touch the subject with irony and also with a certain positivity. In February 1984, they released one of their most famous albums, Into the Gap. In the Winter they had also releases a couple of singles, Hold Me Now and Doctor! Doctor!, which had great success and definitely drove the album’s sales. And so we get to the final part of March 1984 when the beautiful You Take Me Up comes out. The song is cheerful and sparkling, but the lyrics talk about hard work, machines, survival, fever, night crying. And the harmonica we hear from the beginning of the song immediately brings us back to the blues of the plantations that surrounded Atlanta and New Orleans.
Tom, Alannah (the two would later be married for a long time) and Joe, however, see a light that can help overcome all this, and of course it is the light of love. And all this becomes clear in the video, where we see chained prisoners spinning in circles, modern slaves working between quarries and machinery, strict policemen, but we can also see smiles and attitudes of joy and love.
Thompson Twins didn’t always garner good criticism in the 80s. They were sometimes seen as a shallow group in sounds and lyrics. Only later were they reconsidered as one of the most original and innovative groups of the period. After all, they not only reached the top ten in both European and American charts, but also took part in Live Aid in Philadelphia, where they were joined on stage by Madonna.
Thompson Twins on Wikipedia