Certain Songs #1318: New Order – “All Day Long”

Album: Brotherhood
Year: 1986

My favorite song on Brotherhood starts off as a drum-machine driven chill pill after the frenzy of “Bizarre Love Triangle” and buries its lyrical darkness in a combination of mumbled lyrics and a very very long instrumental section.

And in fact, it does such a good job hiding that lyrical darkness that I literally had no idea how dark it truly was until I read Peter Hook’s description of it as “the only song about child abuse you can dance to.” And even though I’d been listening to it for 30 years, I had no idea. But it’s all right there:

This is a song about an innocent
Who died at the hands of a desperate man
He trusted those who he thought he knew
He trusted those who he looked up to
I’ll never forget the joy in his face
He’d laugh and he’d cry and he’d ruin my place
He’d drive me crazy, and he’d drive me wild
I used to scream and shout all day long

The truth is, of course, was that I really wasn’t paying attention to the words, I was waiting for the explosion of gorgeousness that happened after each time he sang the title.

After the first verse, it’s just a big Peter Hook bass run against a cathedral-like organ, twinkling synths and just a smattering of guitar, which then goes into the even darker second verse.

Now I hope you know this song
Is about a child who now has gone
And other children like him, too
Abused and used by what adults do
So don’t tell me about politics
Or all the problems of our economics
When you can’t look after what you can’t own
You scream and shout all day long

And that’s pretty much it for the words in “All Day Long,” and, truthfully, if the song ended there, it wouldn’t have been on the endless series of mixtapes, compilations (“The New Order World”) and playlists it’s been a part of over the decades. But instead of ending, it turns into swirling simmering stews of guitar solos, organ solos, bass solos that climb ever higher and get ever thicker.

My favorite is a low-down, almost country guitar solo that Sumner plays early on, just after the cathedral organ makes a reappearance. As the solo progresses, it doubles back upon itself before swallowed up by a bank of keyboards.

In a weird way, “All Day Long” almost New Order as prog rock: an association that you’d never make because the song is anchored to a drum machine, of course, but it’s always kinda reminded me a bit of Yes or Rush, which I know is completely indefensible, so feel free to make fun of me.

“All Day Long”

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