The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: Song #396…Senses Working Overtime by XTC (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #396: Senses Working Overtime by XTC.

XTC formed in the mid-1970s and released numerous albums over the course of the next several decades. They are fronted by singer/guitarists Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. XTC were a funny band, in a way, because they seemed to defy placement in any particular music genre; instead, they moved fluidly from early Punk, to New Wave, to Pop and to more original combinations of all three. They had several hits from early in their career such as “Making Plans for Nigel”, “Ball and Chain” and “Senses Working Overtime”. Later on in their career, they hit the Top Ten with “Dear God”, “The Mayor of Simpleton”, “Grass” and “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”.

XTC songs are noted for the inventiveness with which the band approached the playing of their instruments and for the wittiness of their wordplay. For instance, when you see the video for “Senses Working Overtime”, pay attention to the small things such as to how they use the tambourine or the order in which the drummer hits what he hits. These small touches, added up over the course of an entire song, give XTC songs a unique sound and feel and, as such, their fanbase tends to be more of a cult-following of music nerds than it does a broad base of popular appeal.

The most telling feature of XTC’s career was something that developed as the band began touring in the early 1980s in support of their album, “English Settlement”, from which, “Senses Working Overtime” comes. As the band toured North America, opening for The Police, frontman Andy Partridge began to develop a sense of anxiety that, eventually, morphed into full-blown stage fright. Despite using medication for his nervousness, Partridge was unable to complete his tour obligations and, from that point onward, XTC have been a studio-only band. It is felt that the band’s inability to make public appearances has stood in the way of larger, more mainstream successs. But, whatever the case, it has not stopped XTC from producing inventive music. *In fact, we will meet XTC again in this list, for their most popular and controversial song, “Dear God”. For now, I will leave you with one of their best known hits from early in their career, “Senses Working Overtime”. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Senses Working Overtime by XTC can be found here.

XTC have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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