Michael Cretu - "Today Today" / "Total Normal" (1983)
At the end of a most ordurious week, wherein the Westminster political and media establishment's opportunistic and/or cowardly sidling up to the rhetoric and even the imagery of fascism instead of facing it down with conviction and hard reality has reached its near-inevitable nadir, the most defiant response I can come up with is to provide you with some more music from our European neighbours.
Come back with me to 1983 (no, I insist). Having screwed up my Part One exams at Uni, I had been banished to the outer darkness of the land of the knownothingmen for a year. In June 1983, I was permitted to come back in order to re-sit the complete set of papers in order that I might proceed to gain a degree with little or no practical utility at all.
I was staying in a hall of residence on the promenade at Aberystwyth (this one to be precise) and - because I didn't know anyone else there - I spent a lot of time listening to the radio whilst giving a thoroughly unconvincing impression of revising. I have a clear image in my mind still of sitting one Sunday evening on the window sill (on the inside, I might point out, rather than the outside: the room was on the first floor, which would have rendered its use as an exit from existential despair utterly risible; and the bloody window wouldn't open anyway) watching a fine sunset over the bay whilst listening to a broadcast of a Joni Mitchell concert.
But during the week, I'd become accustomed to listening to the late afternoon programme presented by Peter Powell, and there was a record that he played a lot during those three weeks that I became keen on. I knew nothing of the artist except his name, and I didn't know how that was spelled anyway (which made trying to track it down in those long-ago pre-net days somewhat difficult). I knew that the title was Today Today, and I wondered then - and have gone on wondering since - why it was never a hit. Here it is:
I never did track a copy down, and it was only when Michael Cretu (for 'twas he) finally did make an impact on the charts some years later with his Enigma project that I found out how to spell his surname, learning also that he was a Romanian who had gone to Germany to study and - this being Romania under the mad emperor Nicolae we're talking about - had wisely decided to stay there.
This new information was of help when - some time further down the rocky road to oblivion again - I finally got online. This was before YouTube and similar sites, and so it really was a net-surfin' safari to see if I could track down a file to listen to. I did manage it after a little while: oldsters on the scene will chuckle when I tell them that it was a Real Audio file encoded at an impertinently low bitrate. Nonetheless, I downloaded it and was transported back nearly two decades.
It was, I think, some time after that I found that Today Today was in fact merely the English-language version of a song which had appeared on Cretu's album Legionäre. There was nothing for it but for me to track down the original, something which had become easier to do because of file-sharing programs such as SoulSeek, Kazaa Lite and WinMX. Before long, I could hear the song as originally intended. Here that is as well:
This is Europe. We are Europe. Let us remain Europe.