You want the life affirming ‘everything gonna be all right’ power of classic alternative pop music at your fingertips on a day like today. This Is The Day is (for my money) one of the most uplifting pieces of music out there. The sheer musicality of The The in their 80’s pomp is a thing to behold. Dexterous, light of touch, breezy, hummable and yet complex and fascinating. And that’s just the intro.
Optimism is an underrated treatment for what ails an individual. The idea that getting a handle on a problem is the first step to resolving it is the human condition writ large. It’s how we came so far. Honestly, optimism is what separates us from the animals. If you have a dog who returns to the same empty bowl moments after eating to see if it has magically refilled, you might disagree with me. Hope and optimism are not quite the same thing. Optimism requires the understanding that ‘Here we are, this is what we’ve had to deal with to this point, but if we make the required changes, things can be better’. The potential for improvement is what drives humanity forward. Sure when we get to the big stuff (inventing the wheel, irrigation, science of any kind) there’s usually a lot of mathematics involved too, but ideas striving for ideals. That’s what makes us human. This is The Day is optimism made song.
The The’s recording of This Is The Day on the record Soul Mining was essentially everything good about pop music all at once up to that point in time. Upon release it must have sounded bright and modern. It must have then because I think it still does almost 40 years later. I credit it’s timeless quality to the fact it’s played on a mix of rock, pop & folk instruments. With spacious arrangements for each player to step into a busy hooky aside the songs melody is a simple thread for the listener to follow. You can dip your toes in This Is The Day or go for a full on wave riding swim.
While there is a whole band on This Is The Day all working their arses off for the tune, The The are often described as solely the work of Matt Johnson. It’s good to have a visionary leader in any endeavour. A big picture maestro. If your line up over time includes talent like synth player Keith Laws, The Smiths Johnny Marr, Marillion’s Steve Hogarth, Iggy Pop’s Eric Schermerhorn, Bowie’s Gail Anne Dorsey, Nene Cherry, Sinead O’Connor, Lloyd Cole and Jools Holland to name but a fraction of the talent attracted to the body of work then you can rest assured the act is of a certain caliber.
This Is The Day has been equipped with the required inspiration and endorphins to lift a mood on any given day since 1983. It can be played in it’s recorded version. Rearranged for the live arena to just a bontempi beat and harmonica riff (OK there’s a bit more than that going on in the second video below but the stripping back of the song to it’s core parts is the point I’m making) or it can be lovingly covered to sit as a post script on an era. That’s what my beloved Manic Street Preachers did when they capped off their first 20 years in the business. They made their cover of This Is The Day the new single used to promote their greatest hits set National Treasures.
So the old adage “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” can be applied to everyone and anyone all at once. There are of course many songs with the same sentiment. Van Halen’s Right Now springs to mind instantly for me. So does Smashing Pumpkins’ Today. Don’t Stop Me Now, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Livin’ On A Prayer. As I said. It’s the human condition. What a day this is.