Wednesday, October 29, 2014

45 RPM Memories - “Don’t Box Me In”

Recorded by Stewart Copeland and Stanard Ridgway in 1983, “Don’t Box Me In”  is an off kilter declaration of independence that sounds like a mashup of the The Police and Wall Of Voodoo. The song retains its infectious melody while lurching through various tempo shifts, and comes from the soundtrack album Copeland composed for Francis Coppola’s film adaptation of the S. E. Hinton Young Adult novel Rumble Fish. Ridgway, best known for “Mexican Radio,” applies his distinctive delivery to Copeland’s clever lyrics about not being limited by other people’s expectations.

“I feel a tug on the line,” Ridgway sings, “Which end will I be on this time?” Observing the sad state of a fish in a jar at the end of the bar, Ridgway decides, “There’s an ocean out there that I gotta swim.” The arrangement taps into new wave while maintaining a unique identity, based on Copeland’s driving drumbeat and Ridgway’s wistful harmonica and energetic keyboards playing. Ultimately, “Don’t Box Me In” celebrates the freedom and confidence to be yourself. “There’ll be a time when I won’t remember what I was afraid of.” That’s a good philosophy for Halloween or any other time of the year.


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