At track #56 on my Eighties’ best 100 list is XTC’s “Dear God”.
“Dear God” was originally released as a B-side to “Grass”, the first single from the 1986 album “Skylarking”, but due to its growing popularity on North American college radio was released as its own single and included on a repressing of the US release of the same album. This repressing of “Skylarking” would go on to higher sales and make a brief climb up the Billboard album charts.
Admittedly, my knowledge of XTC’s music and career is rather pitiful, extending mainly to their singles. I didn’t know, for instance, that the band stopped touring and became a studio-only band back in 1982, due to a breakdown by frontman Andy Partridge. From what I’ve read, this perhaps limited XTC’s commercial potential and eventually led to the band’s demise. I find this point rather tragic because from the little of their output with which I am familiar (basically, the songs on their double album singles collection “Fossil fuel”), I can see that the combined songwriting talents of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding were unequivocally better than many of their contemporaries, especially when it came to the Juvenalian satire-like elements in their lyrics.
Take “Dear God” for instance, a song that begins with vocals sung by a child addressing god, berating him (or her, if you will) for all the bad in the world and then finishing each verse by singing, “I can’t believe in you.” I think this song originally appealed to the part of me that was rebelling against my Catholic upbringing but it really is more than that. The lyrics smartly lash out more at the institution and the people that made it what it has become. Of course, the music behind the lyrics is equally wonderful, juxtaposing heavenly strings against a raging drumbeat, just as Andy Partridge’s “angry” singing is set against the innocence of the child’s vocals that bookend the song.
Favourite lyric: I can’t pick just one. I could easily put the whole song in here but that would be cheating.
Where are they now?: XTC effectively broke up in 2005 when principal songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding stopped working together. There has been little to no output from either since then.
For the rest of the Eighties’ best 100 list, click here.