Cope Disc John Cope
 *
This time, we are doing a blog with a twist.  Instead of a straight review, discussion of the facts, we are delighted to welcome long-time Talk Talk fan, Thomas Lohuis, who has very kindly agreed to give us his perspective on this firm fan favourite.  We’ll be handing over the reins to Thom shortly, but first, some facts.
*
“Beggar sits to plead
Some kind of giving”
*
‘John Cope’ was originally released on the Parlophone label, in September 1988, as the B-side to ‘I Believe in You’ from the album “Spirit of Eden”.  It was subsequently included on the 1998 compilation album, “Asides Besides”.
*
Demoed in 1985, (seemingly a home recording made by Hollis exists somewhere in the multiverse) it was destined for the “Colour of Spring” portfolio, but didn’t make the final cut.  It was held over for inclusion on the next album, “Spirit of Eden” but yet again, failed to make it into the final track-list.  Instead, the band selected it as the B-side to the only single release from SoE.
*
John Cope 3
*
Sad, deep, delicate, beautiful, mournful.  It is overwhelming in it’s understatement.  Part blues, part jazz, the vocal is simple, the guitar riffs raw and damning, the organ playing twists in gloriousness. (I hear a touch of Ray Manzarek/Doors in there).
*
As Steve Winwood played organ on the “CoS” album, I am tempted to think that he may have contributed to ‘John Cope’, though in all probability it is more likely to be Tim Friese-Greene flexing the keyboard muscle. Piano, keyboard, and organ are all sampled throughout, propped up as usual by Lee Harris’ subtle percussion.
*
“Weapons at my feet
Some kind of living”
*
Who was John Cope?  The choice would seem to be between an American Sound Engineer of the 30’s/40’s, or, a British MP and Army General who fought, and lost, in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. What we do know for certain, is that Mark Hollis used this pseudonym to work on both solo and collaborative projects, such as the Allinson Brown ’98 AV1 production.
*
John Cope Soldier
*
 Now we hand over the reins to Thom – I hope you enjoy his wonderfully insightful perspective on this much loved track.
*
Hi Thom,
When did you first hear of Talk Talk and how did you come across them?
What was it about them that you liked, or were particularly drawn to?
*
++The first time I heard them and the thing that got me interested, was a game called GTA:Vice City from 2002.
On the whole (amazing 80’s) soundtrack, one song really caught my attention. ‘Life’s what you make it’. The subject of the lyrics and the ‘missing’ bass were what first drew me to the song and the more I listened to it, the more brilliant I thought it was. I just had to know more about the band, and that’s when I found out that great songs like ‘Such a Shame’ and ‘It’s my Life’ were also theirs (big hits in Holland).
*
I started to try to find out more about them. I had no internet at the time, but my brother-in-law did. So he got me a usb stick with a few songs he could find on eMule. Three songs stood out and got me so hooked I never let go. ‘Myrrhman’, ‘Taphead’ and ‘After the Flood’. I saved up and bought every Talk Talk CD I could find, which were the the first four albums (1997 remasters) and ‘The Collection’.
*
John Cope Aside Besides
*
Why is “John Cope” your favourite TT song?
*
++First off, I can just listen to it endlessly.  It never bores me, I just really like the whole of the instrumentation. I like the build up. I love the sound of the guitars and the ‘raw’ drums and those wind instruments. And I just love the overall ‘feel’ the song gives. The the ‘less is more’ feel in the song is just pure brilliance. Somehow the drumroll at 3.37 always gets me. Goosebumps and a lump in my throat …
*
Are you aware of the notion that it was originally intended for “Colour of Spring”?
Do you think it would have been a better fit with the CoS sound? or do you think it works well with the SoE sound (b-side I Believe in You)?
*
++No, I didn’t know that. I always thought it was a contender for ‘Spirit’. But either way I think the band made the right decision excluding it from both records. I think it wouldn’t fit on either. I always feel there is a ‘missing’ album/link between ‘The Colour of Spring’ and ‘Spirit of Eden’. I think ‘John Cope’, ‘It’s Getting Late in the Evening’, ‘For what it’s Worth’ and ‘I Believe in You’ are perfect for the transition between the two albums. I think ‘Pictures of Bernadette’ would have been great on ‘The Colour..’
*
So – John Cope – who is he – American Sound engineer, Soldier, or none of the above?
*
++I thought he was some classical composer from hundreds of years ago. But I think I got that mixed up with John Cage, someone Mark admired.  I do know Mark used it as a pseudonym for himself on a few occasions. I really have no idea who it is. Neither do i know who Jimmy Finn is (mentioned in ‘The Rainbow’).
*
Mark Hollis John Cope
*
4.39 mins but only two verses made up of 4 sentences? Does this work?  What do you think of the extended instrumental??
*
++The sparse lyrics are just brilliance to me. In a few words he conveys a lot of meaning/emotion. I’m not totally sure what he means though. Maybe some sort of ‘..look what we, as humanity, have become…’
The instrumentation is also pure genius.
The instrumental and vocal pieces in Talk Talk songs are, especially on “Colour of Spring” and ‘Spirit of Eden”, always perfectly balance out. That’s just another thing that makes Talk Talk so brilliant, they completely compliment each other.
*
Do you think that Hollis was already beginning to scale back on the role of the vocal, and, taking a more simplistic approach to lyric writing?
*
++Yes, I think he was. I think he was focussing more and more on the musical side. The lyrics became more ambiguous as to their meaning, so much so that it could mean one thing to one person, and something else to another. But then again, I think that was always a standpoint of the band and Mark in particular. That ‘less is more’. And I love that. To quote a brilliant musician who did the same with his music, Before you play two notes learn how to play one note – and don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it’. OK, OK, it was Mark who said that. 🙂
*
Describe this song in one word.

*

++I think we all know which word that is going to be … exactly …’Brilliance’.

Well, actually ‘Pure brilliance’ and ‘Emotionand ‘Inspirational’ and ‘ amazing’ and powerfull’ and ‘ Legendary’ and ‘………..

*

How clever is Thom….?  Don’t you just love the subtlety of what he did just there with the last response, following the Hollis journey into silence.

There you have it – a perspective on ‘John Cope’, nobody’s child, but much loved and never forgotten.  We’ll draw the story to a close with the song (unfortunately no live recording exists) and as always the lyrics.

*

Adieu.

*

https://youtu.be/nj3gHFucuwg

*

Talk Talk – “John Cope” (B-Side “I Believe in You”, 1988).

Weapons at my feet
Some kind of living
Weapons at my feet
Some kind of living

Beggar sits to plead
Some kind of giving
Beggar sits to plead
Some kind of giving

Songwriters
HOLLIS, MARK S. / FRIESE-GREENE, TIMOTHY ALAN

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

****

ALL TALK TALK ARTWORK COPYRIGHT OF JAMES MARSH

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Coping with John … A Perspective on a Talk Talk B-side by a fan

      1. Chameleon Hour was an Talk Talk album that was to released in 83. It had some songs that were on It’s My Life and some of the later B sides of its singles. But for unknown reasons to me the release was delayed and after more studio time It’s My Life came to be

        Like

  1. ´For What It´s Worth could have been on an album in between The Colour Of Spring and Spirit Of Eden´.
    I fact the song was already written long before and could have been on Chameleon Hour or It´s My Life. It´s even more funny that the ´Synth´ version almost sounds the same as the organic The Colour of Spring version. Exact the same flow, dynamics and dept…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s