Buying New Soul, by Porcupine Tree

Porcupione Tree - Recordings

Porcupine Tree, Recordings sleeve

One of my favorite Porcupine Tree songs. Steven Wilson wrote many great songs with Porcupine Tree, and this one for me is the best of the earlier period, with Chris Maitland on drums. Jazz is not a word you will use to define Porcupine Tree’s music, but this one has lots of jazz influences, with the acoustic bass, the improvisational style of the drumming and how they were recorded to sound coming from the back of the room. Still, it has all the signature ingredients that make a great Porcupine Tree song – the Richard Barbieri atmospherics, Wilson’s melancholy, the acoustic guitar riff and a great electric guitar solo.

Wilson is likely talking about the temptation to sell out as an artist. I bet he could, as he can definitely write melodic, simple radio-friendly songs. But he didn’t, and my hat’s off to him for that. Everything he did with Porcupine Tree, collaborations with other artists, side projects and his solo career, none is a compromise. I love the vocal delivery on this song. It works perfectly with the mood of the arrangement and the musical accompaniment.

The instrumental parts are what really make this a great song for me. The opening with the synth going up and down the scale and the bowed acoustic bass is beautifully aching. It throws you off with the accents on unexpected parts of the measure. The middle part with the drums buildup on top of the acoustic guitar riff, the electric guitar solo with wah pedal, and the atmospherics that segue between the various parts. A masterpiece.

Dried up, a guitar upon my knee

I should have sold out when the devil came for me

I dig a hole and throw it out to sea

Break the code, how happy I could be

 

I still wave at the dots on the shore

And I still beat my head against the wall

I still rage and wage my little war

I’m a shade and easy to ignore

 

White wall, I had to paint a door

I always find that I’ve been through it before

Close it up and throw away the key

Break the code, how happy I could be

 

I woke up and I had a big idea

To buy a new soul at the start of every year

I paid up and it cost me pretty dear

Here’s a hymn to those that disappear

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