Brian Eno and John Cale have a lot in common.
They were both in highly influential, groundbreaking bands.
They were both forced out of those bands after the second albums by charismatic frontmen who wanted more control over the music.
They both launched intriguing solo careers.
And they both became sought-after producers, often working with artists who enjoyed greater success than they did.
So, in some ways, they would seem a natural pairing.
And given their pedigrees, you’d probably have some expectation of something experimental, or inventive.
But Eno and Cale had something more subversive in mind.
A pop album.
Because who would have expected that?
Wrong Way Up was not a happy affair, but any tensions (alluded to in the album’s original artwork) do not show up in the music, which ranks among the finest either artist has ever recorded.
Spinning Away is a particular delight because it is all about creation.
Not merely what you see when you look out at the stars and the sky, but the creation that happens when you find the inspiration to turn those moments into lines, be they visual or verbal.
With its reference to Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Spinning Away is one of the few songs that really gets to the heart of artistry, not just the compulsion to create, but how seeing what you create can be unfathomable, even to you.
It’s kind of odd to hear two very cerebral artists indulge in something emotional, akin to seeing Spock undergoing Pon Farr, and yet those breathtaking harmonies, those shimmering, infinite guitar chords, the sweeping violin, they create a luminous universe of sound you want to traverse for hours on end.
I know it may be hyperbole, but I think Spinning Away is one of the ten most lovely songs in the English language.
It may have been hell making this album for Eno and Cale, but every time I hear Spinning Away I think, if there is a heaven, this plays on an endless loop.