With this week, we polish off the first side of Warren’s Transverse City. (I know — it feels odd to speak of “sides” of an album. The CD and then MP3 revolutions rendered such notions null and void…and that’s sort of a shame.) When originally released on LP and cassette (I bought the cassette), “They Moved the Moon” was the final song on the first side. As such, it serves as a wrap-up of that side’s neo-future dystopia and also seals the fate of the character we’ve followed since the album’s titie track.
With the exception of “Turbulence,” the songs on the first side of Transverse City form a single narrative and — with one exception — a single narrative voice. The guy bemoaning the state of the world in “Transverse City” becomes radicalized in “Run Straight Down.” By “The Long Arm of the Law,” he’s an outlaw on the run. “Turbulence,” with its concern for Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, seems not to fit, but I would argue that it offers a parallel vision of what’s going on in the States — while our nameless narrator is being hunted for breaking the law, the Soviet soldier of “Turbulence” is in just as bad a position, even though he’s followed orders. Screwed if you do and screwed if you don’t.
Which brings us to “They Moved the Moon,” a haunting love song, a paean to paranoia, and a dirge all wrapped up together:
I was counting on you
To stand by me
To see me through
Our narrator is in dire straits, indeed. He’s lost his way. He’s lost his love. And he’s maybe even lost his mind:
They moved the moon
While I looked down
When I looked away
They changed the stars around
Every time I hear this song, I imagine it playing over the slow image of a man in a straitjacket being dragged down a long, dark corridor, finally hauled through a massive vault-like door, from which there is clearly no return.
Check it out yourself. Someone set the song to images of space, which is kinda nice…