Space Needle got my attention because their album, The Moray Eels Eat the Space Needle, was a tribute to a 1968 Holy Modal Rounders album. “Never Lonely Alone” is really the only song of its type on the album — which veers off into more experimental avant-prog tendencies — staying comfortable with its slow driving U2-ish 90s pop rock vibe. The other song included on the single, “Love Left Us Strangers,” does operate in a more traditional pop mode too, but the songs feel completely different from each other. I’ve always liked how the band released them as the single for an album that is otherwise filled with lots of spacy experimental noise-jazz.
I tend to listen to 1995’s Voyager and The Moray Eels… for their experimental proggy tendencies, but there are always these two pop songs waiting for me. After digging around a bit online, I found an interview with band leader/drummer Jud Ehrbar that changed everything about these two songs. In the interview, Ehrbar explained that “Love Left Us Strangers” had slicker production and was purposely set up for radio airplay while “Never Lonely Alone” was just recorded by him on a four-track. Intriguingly, he also said the latter was written “from the point of view of somebody who is a loner that goes to movies by himself.”
Now I absolutely love this knowledge. Of course I understand that sometimes it’s really awful for a song’s point-of-view to be unveiled. A songwriter’s secret can complicate and devalue the meaning of a song on a personal/subjective level. There are clearly times when the secret can enhance it too though. The closing harmony-soaked lyrics become more than just hypnotic pop that reminds me of a film montage or The Police or U2’s “With or Without You.”
Knowing this point of view gives me an image that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The closing lyrics are: “You never go out alone/ but I’m never lonely alone/ oh I’m never lonely alone.”Instead of thinking about a failed relationship or how the song is trippy and the lyrics seem less important than the harmonies, that movie-loner fact makes me imagine this person sitting in the movie theater alone. It makes me think of a Paul Baribeau song with the lyrics “I am learning how to be alone without being lonely.” It makes me think of all the friends I have who are afraid to be alone and who equate alone with lonely. This difference between solitude and loneliness is profound. The point of view on its own turns an otherwise enjoyable song into a completely different beast. For that, I am grateful.