Some Great Reward

To celebrate Depeche Mode’s twelfth album that releases a week from tomorrow (April 21–great day to be born!), I’m going to review each of their albums by the date I purchased them. I’m not a music reviewer and everything that needs to be said about each album has been said, but I’m simply sharing some random thoughts on my love of each of these albums and how they impacted my life. 

And look . . . The group has sold over a 100 million albums. I don’t have to apologize for liking them. I won’t. Even if my dad calls them Depeche Commode. Whatever. How many groups have been around this long and been this influential? 
People don’t mind admitting their love of U2. I love U2 as well. But not like Depeche. 
If I could have a beer with anyone in the world, it would be Martin Gore. But, since he’s sober now (probably a good thing, too), I settle for having guess a cup of coffee with him. 
So my first album I ever got of Depeche’s happened to be Some Great Reward. I love that title, by the way. One day I want to title a book with that name. 
I had already heard Depeche Mode’s breakthrough hit when it came on the radio: “People Are People.” I liked the song, too (though now it’s among my least favorite songs). But on a ninth grade class trip in 1985, I heard the rest of the album. 
Everything changed for me. 
This was a time when there was still such a thing as MYSTIQUE. Nowadays there’s no mystique. We see videos of Bono in his hotel room and we see what Britney Spears is thinking about on Twitter and we see reports of every other celebrity in the world on one of ten thousand programs on television. 
Yet, when I heard Depeche Mode, I was living in North Carolina. I knew nothing on them and I had to search hard to find anything about them. 
They represented what I always thought and believed: There’s a big, bold, and exciting world happening out there. 
These strange guys from England represented something different, something rebellious, something strange and magical. They definitely had mystique. 
It wasn’t just that, though. I loved their sound. 
From the strange, gurgling noise that opens up the album to the pounding, haunting drums of the final song, I knew that this was something different. Something “adult”, something foreign, something cool. 
I loved them instantly. 
Depeche Mode has always been a strange pop band. They admit it even now. They came out with all those other awful 80’s bands but they were different. Still, they looked strange and sounded all synthed up and for a while got no respect. 
But listening to Some Great Reward, I can see why I starting liking them. 
Their songs usually touch on three things–love (blossoming and falling apart), relationships (desire, romance, sex) and faith. Strange, I know. But as an impressionable teenager, those three things drew me in.  
Listening to their album felt–it felt like I was in on some secret. I knew that others were listening to this music, just nobody I knew. I didn’t quite understand the lyrics–they were pessimistic and promiscuous and yet unabashedly romantic at the same time. 
One reason I started to love them was because after five dark, brooding synth songs, here’s this piano ballad sung by “the other guy” with lyrics like “I want somebody who cares for me passionately with every thought and with every breath.” A heartfelt song that I loved so much that it happened to be the song I danced to with Sharon on our wedding day. 
Yet that song is followed by the S&M-sounding “Master and Servant.” This song was about the complexity of relationships, but they played it off in an seductive way. It sounded (and still does sound) cool, dark, hypnotic. Dave Gahan’s voice is perfect. Not too poppy but not too grainy. 
But the song that really, truly did it for me was the last song on the album. I’d never heard something sound so mesmerizing and haunting. It’s the song “Blasphemous Rumors”, a song my parents forbid me to play, a song that made me worry when I listened to it. 
It had the strangest sounds I’d ever heard, along with the darkest beat and creepiest vibe. But the lyrics are the thing that made me wonder. What’s Martin Gore talking about? What’s he trying to say? 
The song is about someone who is questioning God, who thinks it’s all a joke because of the darkness in this world, who’s almost taunting God. 
Do I agree with these lyrics? No. But I can still see how someone could utter them. I can see how someone could sing them after sitting in a church and witnessing the horrors all around them. My character in Isolation, Jim, could sing this song because it’s very much what he was going through. 
For a musical group from some small town in England to tackle topics of love (what’s that all about?) sex (forbidden!!), and faith (in a way that was very, very different from my parents and my school), it all seemed so . . . so FASCINATING. 
I was a teenager. And I’d found an outlet. 
So many years later, I’m still a fan. And I still find it amazing to hear songs about love and sex and faith all integrated in a strange and mystical way. 
I know more than I did when I was ninth grade, of course (well, most of the time). But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t some mystique. There is. There probably always will be with Depeche. And call me silly. Whatever. I’ll still always like them. 
And I’ll still always be able to relate. 


  1. By far the longest blog post I have ever encountered. Well, you ARE a writer. Now you got me all interested in DM.

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