Monday, September 05, 2011

Where Can I Find You?

I was listening to Where Can I Find You and I misheard the fourth line as "I still can't find what I'm looking for". The line, in fact, goes "'Cause I'm looking for something I can't find". This set me wondering whether it helped inspire the famous and profoundly spiritual U2 song. Maybe there's a clue in the grammar: For both songs start by searching for a "you" - a person. But  the choruses refer to an object a "what", a "something".

It's an entirely reasonable hypothesis. A friend was impressing on me the other day how influential the Light Up the Fire album was on a generation of young church-goers. U2 members, with their background, were most likely familiar with it. And Parchment set out a vision of spiritual life as a journey, of seeking and learning. U2 more than anyone embodied the band's vision of a culture that embraced traditional Christian spirituality - not rejected it - and of Christians having a place in modern culture.

So to Where Can I Find You. It's a beat gospel song with some amazing echo added by John Pantry, creating an ethereal moaning vocal. For some critics it typified the phenomenon of gospel bands playing musical styles years out of date - as beat had died before the Beatles. For others it's a great example of acid folk at its best - and I'm surprised its Heathcliffian vocals haven't been picked up like other tracks on the album. We don't know for sure when it was written - probably long before 1972. It was released as the band's second single in 1973 with the Trinity Folk acapella folk song Working Man as the B-side. I'm guessing it made no impact on the charts. A shame - but I'm also guessing that over the years it has inspired thousands on their journey by one means or another.

And it ends on a different note to the U2 song, whose singer never finds what he's looking for in spite of believing in the cross "of my shame" which "you... carried".

All together now: "you gotta look for me when you don't really want to..."

PS There's another Caedmon gig on the way. Details to follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did not know this song until I got the 3CD of Parchment and as soon as I heard it - it reminded me very much of Still haven't found ..... parts of the instrumentation - rhythm - construction and even melody are very similar .