I may perform with just a keyboard and my voice these days, but I always have a soft spot for 80s synth pop.
In some cases, songs don’t hold up without the production. But in many cases, if you strip away the production, you have a song that can stand up on its own.
Like this month’s song.
If you grew up in Europe or went to dance clubs in the mid-80s, you probably heard this song at some point. Clan of Xymox (or Xymox) are a Dutch group whose music I’m honestly not familiar with beyond the music on their third album Twist of Shadows. I heard Imagination on a compilation CD of Dutch music, and this song stood out to me. It’s dark and danceable in a kind of New Order way, but with a female singer (Anka Wolbert). The danceable vibe grabbed me, then the lyrics did, and I was in love. This is one of my favorite 80s songs ever. The rest of the album is in much the same vibe as this song, but with a male singer instead (Roony Moorings).
Imagination was the third single from the Xymox album Twist of Shadows, released in 1989, and it only reached #85 on the Billboard charts. Their two other singles, Obsession and Blind Hearts, all did well on the Hot Dance Club and Alternative song charts in the US, however. Imagination remains the biggest commercial success of the group, and it’s my favorite song by them.
I didn’t use sheet music or even guitar tabs to learn this song. Instead, I began teaching myself how to play this song by ear. A few years ago, someone who I thought was a dear friend (and had been my friend for about a year at that point) ended up ghosting on me. Rather than talking to me about whatever it was that was bothering her (and I still don’t know to this day what I did wrong), she blocked me on Twitter, stopped returning my phone calls, and basically acted like the biggest coward I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.
This song gave me a lot of comfort during that difficult time. Her betrayal forever changed me. Because of her, I have major trust issues and am afraid to get close to people.
And when she comes to mind, this song helps me.