Fade Away (1991) – Analysis by Chris Wikstrom
Everything you are you’ve been once before
Everything you hear you’ve heard it once or more
Everything you see you’ve seen it all before
Everything you dream leads to that open door
Honest – The making of the album
Dave Stewarts second studio album with the Spiritual Cowboys came out in 1991 and was titled Honest. The album was promoted by two singles, Crown of Madness and Out of Reach, and also followed by an extensive European tour.
In Swedish magazine Musiker magasinet (11-1991) Stewart explained the album had been recorded in his house in the south of France (”I like cooking in my own kitchen”) and also compared the recording sessions with that of making a nice apple pie. About the finished album he said:
”We played seven or eight concerts right before recording Honest. When we recorded the first album we hadn’t played live before and I had about 70 songs to choose from, old as well as new. That’s why Honest feels more personal and natural, it’s an album made to be played live”).
In an interview in Guitar – The Magazine (Issue 8, 1991) Stewart explained the idea behind the 12 track album:
”We recorded this album with that idea of it being a huge jigsaw and in a lot of ways it was similar to the way I used to work with Annie in Eurythmics cause those songs were always less structured than everyone thought. For this album, I felt I could afford to be loose about it and rock out a little, discover the wilder side to my guitar playing, pay a little tribute here and there and get right out of the conventions and structures that kept me before”.
Later in the interview Stewart also stressed the fact the recording sessions were characterized by spontaneity or as he put it himself:
”It was all spontaneous whereby I’d sit and work out an idea on my Strat in the morning and we’d have a finished track by the evening. Instant Karma! I’d write a track by just playing the guitar line and walking up to the mike with the tapes rolling and just sing this stream of consciousness thing, nonsensical ideas that sort of begin to make a lot of sense after a while. When the rough ideas were down we’d just take the essence of it all and refine it until we had a song. We actually did the album in very short active bursts and actually working on songs was a case of me coming up with the idea and then calling up everyone else and saying they’d better come on down and do it right then or else we’d lose the vibe on it.
And regarding the whole Spiritual Cowboys “project” Stewart said:
”I suppose you can call this whole project a bit of a ”pop person gets a little cracked” thing but I see the whole Spiritual Cowboys thing as a statement more about the times we’re in now than anything else: A sort of ’90s mish mash of ideas and influences. Whether it’s the mystic, the spiritual or anything else you can come up with”.
Zen – A possible inspiration?
It is a well known fact that Stewart’s stepfather Julien Masseron was a Zen Buddhist from Brittany. In a great interview in British magazine The Idler (Issue 31, 2002) Stewart gives a vivid and very warm portrait of him and praises the fact that he always lived ”in the moment”:
”He was the champion idler of all time, he never touched money for about thirty years, but he found everything he ever wanted. He would read The Times, because he knew people at this place threw them away before they got on the bus. Then he knew of a particular shop which threw out their croissants at about ten o’clock, so he’d have a nice croissant. He inherited a houseboat from a great aunt and it didn’t have an engine. But he didn’t want an engine. He used to just float around. He would put a sign up on his boat ”game of chess wanted” and just sit there for four hours waiting for someone to come up and say ”Yeah, I’ll give you a game of chess”.
It seems to me Julien Masseron’s way of seeing life has influenced Stewart in many regards. Stewart even dedicated the first Spiritual Cowboys album to him (”THIS ALBUM IS DEDICATED TO JULIEN 1921-1986”). It is also likely Julien Masseron is the person Stewart refers to in the song Good For Nothing on the album Sly Fi (1998) when he sings these very Zen inspired lines:
My stepfather said son
”You’ve got it all”
”So just have a ball”
”Until you fall into nothing”
”It’s good to be nothing”
In an in-depth interview on Z-TV in 1994, Stewart told renowned music journalist Per Sinding-Larsen that he felt drawn towards Zen Buddhism:
”Well, I must say I’m much more drawn towards the Buddhist and particularly Zen Buddhism and the appreciation of ”now”. You know, the moment that we’re in. That helps me keep sane a lot of the time. If you live in the past or thinking about the future time’s passing by, you know and you’re not in it”.
Personal experiences influence how we think and how we view the world around us. But our personal experiences also varies the way we each interpret art (music, paintings, installations, movies, etc). When listening to a certain song for example, we paint pictures of what that certain composition (words & music) say to us. And interestingly these pictures or interpretations can sometimes be way off to what the artist actually intended .
Fade Away is a song Stewart co-wrote with Spiritual Cowboy Jonathan Perkins a.k.a. Wild Mondo and the track is featured on Honest.
I have always associated Fade Away with a very important Zen wisdom; that of living in the ”now”. Furthermore, it is a song that deals with the most important spiritual practice of all; how we can live awakened in our daily life. The ”message” seems to be: Live in the moment, let go of the ego, embrace love and don’t forget that we are also part of a larger community of mankind. It’s only when we realize that we are connected with nature and each other we can undermine our self-centered ego and the hubris of human arrogance and instead start to experience true human compassion.
Don’t wait so long/Turn the key before you fade away/Don’t wait so long/Turn the key before you fade away
Everyone you love you could have loved them more
Everyone you touch you could touch to the core
Everytime you wait it’s not worth waiting for
Everyone you lost you better find them all
Don’t wait so long/Find them all before they fade away/Don’t wait so long/Find them all before they fade away
Stewart and Perkins have also inserted a great bridge halfway through the song implying causes are not outside you, the fundamental cause is always within you.
I know you live in isolation
So you don’t have to pretend
That you could live alone forever
And be your own best friend