I Will See You In Far Off Places - an appreciation

GlasgowChivas

Doing the Terrace Stomp
I don't know what's caused it but I've been listening to this on repeat a lot recently and I want to talk about it.

When Ringleader came out I remember liking the song but ultimately dismissing it as "a good opener" and moving on to songs like 'Dear God Please Help Me' and 'Life Is A Pigsty'. This was the album, so the critics claimed, where Morrissey was baring all, he was confessing, he was revealing. And maybe he was. It's hard to listen to 'At Last I Am Born' and not find yourself agreeing with those sentiments. (That is another Ringleader song that I've been playing a lot but I'll save that chat for another day.)

So maybe I didn't give 'Far Off Places' a fair trial first time around. Now? Woaft! What a song. I've been alternating between the album cut, the Live At The Hollywood Bowl version and the live version from the Carling Academy, Glasgow, Scotland gig from 27/04/2006. (I was there that night; first ever Morrissey gig!)

The pure, raw, rawk sound of the live versions could be mistaken for Iron Maiden or Metallica as it crashes into life and the etheral voices singing over the opening lend it an otherwordly epicness that I'm ashamed to have ignored for so long. The baseline in the live versions is incredible too. The runs up and down the scale give me goosebumps. Add to it the middle-eastern feel to the song (highlighted even further in the live tracks which have a sitar,I think, included,) and this is getting quite special.

Morrissey's delivery of the lyrics (which I'll come back to later) is incredible. He doesn't do anything fancy for the most part, it's a mid-tempo song with obvious climbs and drops in range but it never really test his voice. BUT, he still manages to produce something incredible here. The 'Why, Why, Why, Why,Wh-yyyyyy' gets me everytime. The live tracks are even better. He drops some lyrics here and there but attacks the song much more fiercely, growling at times. It doesn't always work when he does that but it does for this song.

The lyrics. Okay, so it's a middle eastern sounding song making reference to the USA, bombs, saving lives, ending lives so it's easy enough to entertain that this was Morrissey's Iraq song. But is it? Is it that simple? I dunno. I seem to remember that there was some scuttlebutt at the time claiming that the song was about Osama Bin Laden. Do people still think that is the case? I don't see it myself but would like to hear others thoughts.

Finally, as the song builds to a climax it throws in a one-two punch to cement it's status as something vital and real. Now I don't know the correct term for the noise that comes in at the end of the last verse. I don't know if it's a sample or if it's made by an instrument but it sounds to me like a sample of the Call to Prayer. It couldn't have been better chosen no matter what it was and I'd love to know who's input that was. Whether it was Visconti or Boz or Moz himself it's genius. The second part of course is Morrissey's scat singing over the outro. Simple 'la-la-la's' become something ominous, dangerous and threatening. And that's before he complicates them into long chants of something that resembles 'hoo-dur-ura, hoo-dur-ura, hoo-dur-a-ra-am!"

I'm not really getting across all I want to say, there's too much. But I like this song. A lot. And I want to know if you do too.
 

Kewpie

Member
Moderator
Subscriber
The song is a grower.

Mikey's contribution to the live version is fantastic indeed.
 

sistasheila

tjekket
I don't know what's caused it but I've been listening to this on repeat a lot recently and I want to talk about it.

When Ringleader came out I remember liking the song but ultimately dismissing it as "a good opener" and moving on to songs like 'Dear God Please Help Me' and 'Life Is A Pigsty'. This was the album, so the critics claimed, where Morrissey was baring all, he was confessing, he was revealing. And maybe he was. It's hard to listen to 'At Last I Am Born' and not find yourself agreeing with those sentiments. (That is another Ringleader song that I've been playing a lot but I'll save that chat for another day.)

So maybe I didn't give 'Far Off Places' a fair trial first time around. Now? Woaft! What a song. I've been alternating between the album cut, the Live At The Hollywood Bowl version and the live version from the Carling Academy, Glasgow, Scotland gig from 27/04/2006. (I was there that night; first ever Morrissey gig!)

The pure, raw, rawk sound of the live versions could be mistaken for Iron Maiden or Metallica as it crashes into life and the etheral voices singing over the opening lend it an otherwordly epicness that I'm ashamed to have ignored for so long. The baseline in the live versions is incredible too. The runs up and down the scale give me goosebumps. Add to it the middle-eastern feel to the song (highlighted even further in the live tracks which have a sitar,I think, included,) and this is getting quite special.

Morrissey's delivery of the lyrics (which I'll come back to later) is incredible. He doesn't do anything fancy for the most part, it's a mid-tempo song with obvious climbs and drops in range but it never really test his voice. BUT, he still manages to produce something incredible here. The 'Why, Why, Why, Why,Wh-yyyyyy' gets me everytime. The live tracks are even better. He drops some lyrics here and there but attacks the song much more fiercely, growling at times. It doesn't always work when he does that but it does for this song.

The lyrics. Okay, so it's a middle eastern sounding song making reference to the USA, bombs, saving lives, ending lives so it's easy enough to entertain that this was Morrissey's Iraq song. But is it? Is it that simple? I dunno. I seem to remember that there was some scuttlebutt at the time claiming that the song was about Osama Bin Laden. Do people still think that is the case? I don't see it myself but would like to hear others thoughts.

Finally, as the song builds to a climax it throws in a one-two punch to cement it's status as something vital and real. Now I don't know the correct term for the noise that comes in at the end of the last verse. I don't know if it's a sample or if it's made by an instrument but it sounds to me like a sample of the Call to Prayer. It couldn't have been better chosen no matter what it was and I'd love to know who's input that was. Whether it was Visconti or Boz or Moz himself it's genius. The second part of course is Morrissey's scat singing over the outro. Simple 'la-la-la's' become something ominous, dangerous and threatening. And that's before he complicates them into long chants of something that resembles 'hoo-dur-ura, hoo-dur-ura, hoo-dur-a-ra-am!"

I'm not really getting across all I want to say, there's too much. But I like this song. A lot. And I want to know if you do too.

i like your review feel free to do that for other songs as well:thumb:
 

Rosary

too much in love
I get piloerection all the time listening to this song. :love:
 

Stoned

Oh well...enough said
Stunning track , great opening
Cheers Moz
 

CrystalGeezer

My secret's my enzyme.
An immensely powerful song. One of my favorites despite the central premise of my "fight" is to make faroff places real and tangible.
 

sad veiled bride

can you please stop time?
I also find it's a great powerful song, it gives me a lot of energy when I listen to it: I particularly love those middle-eastern-style voice modulations and the final hoo-dur-ura. I have to admit that I have no idea what it's about. Osama Bin Laden? Mmm, not very convincing, but, who knows?
 

Mongoose Juice

New Member
Good song. I like the last lines the most: "I believe I will see you somewhere safe, Looking to the camera, messing around, And pulling faces" Aimed at the innocent young victim of the war, I like the way Morrissey understands how young children should be (mis)behaving when not scurrying around avoiding bullets.
 

bhops

Last of the famous international screw ups.
Musically this song reminds me a lot of "Hippie hippie hourra" by Jacques Dutronc.
 

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
I don't know what's caused it but I've been listening to this on repeat a lot recently and I want to talk about it.
I am glad someone else recognizes the power of this and decided to review it. I love the Middle Eastern sounds at the end, it shows Morrissey venture to experiment with different sounds while maintain his musical signatures. I like Armond White's review of the song. It first appeared in Slate magazine:
The album leads off with luxurious worry: "I Will See You in Far Off Places." The initial declaration of existential anxiety ("Nobody knows what human life is/ Why we come/ Why we go") is supplanted with a lover's jocular promise. It's a signature Morrissey power ballad, addressing the ineffable like so many of his other opening album tracks, but here he alludes to world conditions that effect his individual unease. ("If your God bestows protection upon you/ And if the U.S.A. doesn't bomb you ... .") The tempo rises and soars toward resolution through powerful repetitive murmurs. Morrissey affects the sound of a Middle Eastern muezzin, a deliberate orientalism so unexpected—and natural-sounding—that it lends shocking implications to the Play Mediafinal lyric: "I will see you somewhere safe/ Looking to the camera/ Messing around and pulling faces." Insurrectionists and suicide bombers—of all stripes—fondly embraced.
 

CrystalGeezer

My secret's my enzyme.
I could explain this alchemically, but I'm going to go get a donut instead. :p

But if anyone really cares one of the keys to understanding this are these Atalantis fugiens plates:

Morrissey sings as the moon. The heart (and sol) knows why he greives because they are swimming in the same deep water as each other, forgive the lame Cure reference.


The reason why it is hard for the flesh to combine, as seem here, the hermetic androgyne taking earthly form, is that it is an exercise in mental concentration to simultaneously HEAT the fire, (as Morrissey literally does while singing the scat at the end and that the sound engineer when producing the studio song did a brilliant job of evoking an auditory mood of a sword fight, similar to Pigsty.) and combine the flesh so they can use each other's parts. :o Sometimes that sharing process saves lives, sometimes it is a destructive energy force that ends lives. It is, straightforward, simply a power that depending on the currents of ebb and flow with the universe these two, two separate people sharing parts and the same force, are entrusted with because at the end of the day, both of them are responsible with it.


Here's the swordfight (batons, whatever, it's a weapon like a BOMB that puts evil in it's place) at the end when he, or she, they, whatever, are wailing on the evil.


No, I don't believe in my heart he wrote a song about suicide bombers or the middle east. I could be wrong, but it's more like a ballad to the faroff place when he closes his eyes and sees in his mind his co-conspirator, that lady in a dress, the moon. The camera is his mind, a safe place for him that she looks into and they share this adventure. Who knows what he was thinking when he wrote it, but that's my take. I could talk about Patti Smith's Patty Hearst and her borrowing a carbine and becoming a threat, but I'm starving. And writing this stuff enslaves me. Donut tiem!!!!! :D
 
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Dave

Guest
I think it is about the current situation, terrorism being in the news so much, and more so even at that time. It's about larger issues, too and I think there is some perspective given by talking about the value of human life in the first verse, an eternal absolute, and the local and current situation where lives are being taken in these military actions against people that we can see are human beings when the pictures we are shown have them laughing rather than burning an American Flag.

smiling_muslim_womens_.jpg

edit: oh my bad, they're watching footage of the world trade center attacks.
 
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the_kaz

Active Member
Excellent review from the OP! I pretty much agree with everything. However, I wouldn't say this was a "grower" for me. I loved it from the very first listen! 'Ringleader' was the first "new" Morrissey album since I started listening to him (out of choice), and the first time I listened to this song pretty much cemented me as a "fan". I loved everything about it, and I even played it to my mum to get her opinion (as she's Syrian and listens to a lot of Middle Eastern music, so I wanted to know what she thought of Morrissey's attempt on that kind of music).

I didn't actually know that there was any ambiguity around what the song is about. From one of my very earliest listens, I've kind of just taken it for granted that he's singing sympathetically to a Middle Eastern "terrorist"; not Bin Laden, but someone who's been caught up in it all. I can see why it's controversial, but this is one of the boldest and most profound songs of Morrissey's career, IMO.
 
D

Dave

Guest
I think "explosive kegs between my legs - Dear God, please help me" could be interpreted as being literally about a terrorist.
 
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