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.
Honourable Mention Song #3: I Melt With You by Modern English (as nominated by Jeanette Sage).
I met my wife at a staff meeting. A brand new school was being built in a neighbouring town. It came to my attention that the Principal of this new school was, in fact, going to be the same man who was my Principal at the very beginning of my career. Since I had enjoyed our time together, I gave him phone call and asked if he had any room on his roster for me. He did. Thus, I ended up helping him to open a new school which, obviously, entailed becoming a member of a brand new teaching staff. At the time, my wife, Keri, was not my wife. She was another young teacher on a staff populated with young teachers. I was a decade older that most of my new colleagues but, because I was single, I got included in getting to know everyone in a social way, as well as a professional way. In doing so, I met the woman who was to become my wife. But, in addition, I got to enjoy the privilege of forming friendships that have lasted beyond my time at that school and which continue to this very day. One of those new educators that Keri and I got to meet way back then was a smart, talented teacher named Jeanette Sage. One of the great things about meeting other young people, like Jeanette, when we did was that we have been able to grow into our adult lives together. Our timelines have generally followed a parallel course. There have been marriages, the purchasing of new homes, the birth of children and, as time has gone by, we have been able to watch each other’s children growing up and moving on into the world. Not too long ago, via Facebook, Keri and I got to watch Jeanette and her husband take their eldest daughter around on the university tour because she will be ready to start attending post-secondary school very soon. In a year and a bit, Keri and I will be doing the same thing for our Leah. Where does the time go?!
Regardless of what has transpired over the course of the several decades we have known Jeanette and her family, we have remained connected in ways that work for us all. As a consequence of that, Jeanette has been able to offer her support and her commentary all throughout this countdown. As it turns out, we share a similar taste in music. I can always count on Jeanette to chime in with an enthusiastic “thumbs up” whenever I post about an Alternative song and/or songs from the 80s/90s. Therefore, I was not surprised when she replied to my call for Honourable Mention songs with an 80s classic, “I Melt With You” by Modern English.
Modern English were a band from Colchester, Essex in England (which is about an hour and a half northeast of London, on the seaboard, almost directly across the English Channel from Dunkirk). They started out in the late 1970s, as many UK bands did, by playing Punk music. They never envisioned that they would achieve lasting fame by way of a pop gem but, they did. At that time in history, the Cold War between Russia and the US was still in full effect and there was much talk about the US “Star Wars” missile defence system and about “mutually assured destruction” and other ominous such topics. That the world could end at any moment was a very real possibility. So, one day, as the boys in the band were travelling from one town to another for a gig, they started talking about the state of the world and wondered what they might be doing the moment that a nuclear bomb struck. Someone mentioned that they hoped they would be making love at the time. Then, it occurred to everyone that if that, in fact, was the case, the two bodies would probably melt into each other. As soon as that was mentioned, the idea of melting together and being as one for all eternity was born and “I Melt With You” became a song. That song was the only notable hit for Modern English but, what a success it has been. “I Melt With You” topped the charts the world over and is universally-regraded as being one of the songs that most characterizes the sound of 80s new wave music.
I have always liked this song. I liked it for the musicality of it but, as well, the idea of forming a perfect union with your beloved for all eternity is a romantic ideal as well. It is an ideal that has shown up in literature throughout the ages; everything from the famous ending of Shakespeare’s, “Romeo and Juliet”, all the way to the climatic speech given at the end of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Phillip Pullman, which was my favourite book series that Leah and I read together when we were doing that sort of thing together. That speech by the girl, Lyra, to her friend/soulmate, Will, speaks to the core concept of the idea being expressed in “I Melt With You”. It goes, as follows:
“I will love you forever, whatever happens.
Till I die, and after I die,
And when I find my way out of The Land of The Dead, I’ll drift about forever,
all of my atoms,
Till I find you again.
I’ll be looking for you, Will. Every single moment.
And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight
that nothing and no one will ever tear us apart.
Every atom of me….every atom of you…
We’ll live in the birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those specks of light floating in sunbeams…
And when they use our atoms to make new lives,
They won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two;
One from me and one from you,
We’ll be joined together so tight.” – Phillip Pullman, “The Amber Spyglass”
So, as you listen to Jeanette’s nominated song, look past the pop sensibilities of it all. It is a poppy, catchy tune and that is, in large part, what has made it so successful over the years. But, what has really helped “I Melt With You” become the enduring classic it has is the deeply romantic idea that forms the core of this song. “I Melt With You” is a song about the, literal, fusing of two hearts into one in a way that lasts for all eternity. So, for all you lovers out there, as well as, those of you with friendships that have withstood the test of time, too,…..as Keri and I have been able to do with Jeanette…..then, this song is for you. Thanks, Jeanette, for bringing “I Melt With You” to our attention. It is a terrific song. Thanks, as well, for all of your supportive comments and stories along the way. Your input has made this musical journey so much better.
So, without further delay, here are Modern English, with their one big hit, about dying in a nuclear meltdown while making love……”I Melt With You”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “I Melt With You” by Modern English, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Modern English, can be found here.