The Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Files: The Second Most Famous Simple Minds Song Of All Time

Nov 16th, 2006 // 12 Comments

Time to comb through our archives for another installment of the Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda files, where we give an unfairly neglected artist, song, or cassingle its due.

Artist: Simple Minds
Song: “Life In A Day,” 1982 1979
What happened: A few years before their career as a credible rock band was stuffed into a locker by John Hughes, Simple Minds were a Glasgow synth-pop band trying awfully hard to capture the brooding song-from-under-the-floorboards sound of Magazine. Then they managed it on Life On A Day, and then went new-wave, pop, and nowhere–in that order.
Why it should have been a hit: Produced by British mastermind John Leckie (Radiohead, XTC, Stone Roses), “Life In A Day” is go-for-broke pop of the highest order, with a percolating intro and a rasping synthesizer line. We’ve always secretly believed that U2–who were often lumped in with the Minds in their early days–re-discovered this record in the early ’90s, when they were in their keyboards-from-space phase.

Simple Minds – Life In A Day [MP3, link expired]
SPECIAL WHY-NOT BONUS: Simple Minds – Someone [MP3, link expired]


  1. Jack Fear

    That’s a pretty harsh assessment (though not as harsh as the haircut that Kerr is sporting in that photo–yikes!). Simple Minds had plenty of good records in ‘em before their descent into irrelevance. Do you dismiss Empires and Dance, Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call as simply “new wave”? To my ears those records carry all the menace of Magazine, but interpolated as angular robot funk.

    I’ll agree that everything since THE BREAKFAST CLUB has been suckorama, but come on–”This Fear of Gods,” “Sweat In Bullet,” “The American,” “Theme For Great Cities”… great stuff.

  2. Ned Raggett

    I thought “Life in a Day” was from 1979 or so…

  3. Jack Fear

    Yeah, ’79 it was.


  4. hndinglove

    jack fear is right — ‘i travel’ is a fantastic song, as is ‘twist/run/repulsion.’ they had some great, weird, angular early stuff. astralwerks just reissued a simple minds early singles CD.

    and ‘sparkle in the rain’ wasn’t a TERRIBLE album. ok, it bit U2 pretty hard; i think lillywhite just produced it. but the hooks were pretty fabulous.

  5. Crunchbird

    This is all well and good, but the second most famous Simple Minds song of all time is clearly “Promised You a Miracle,” not “Life in a Day.” Or possibly that horrible “Alive and Kicking” . . .

  6. Brian Raftery

    For some reason, the CD booklet has “Copyright 1982″ under the songwriting credits. I’ll amend.

  7. Jack Fear

    ‘glove, I knew I liked you.

    Sparkle is big, but sometimes big is what you need, you know?

    The wife and I were on a long car ride this summer; It’s a beautiful day, we’re cruising through the back country, and we’ve just finished listening to Who’s Next at punishing volume. As the last chord of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” fades, she sez, “What can we possibly listen to now? What could possibly follow that?”

    I slot Sparkle into the CD player, and there’s that HUGE drum hit that opens “Up On the Catwalk”… and she sez, “Okay, that’ll work.”

  8. cpl-593h

    lest we forget “glittering prize” (courtesy of apparently now-poached lost in the 80s)

  9. Tiger_Tanaka

    Fear, glove – right on. American, I Travel were/are the bomb. New Gold Dream…they were ahead of the game there for quite awhile.

  10. hndinglove

    tiger and jack, yes, simple minds posse. word.

    new gold dream! seriously, anyone who doesn’t shed a little tear at the nostalgic glow of ‘someone somewhere in the summertime’ isn’t human. the title track is great as well; also thumbs up to ‘promised you a miracle.’

    even today, those sound like new romantic hits, but lacking the poofiness and slickness.

    and jack — totally on the drumbeats. ‘east at easter.’ man.

  11. d_mosurock

    I’ve tried to sell countless people on this record over the years, to little avail. “Wasteland” is such a great song, and so few are ever gonna realize it.

  12. Its actually terrific, I waited for it along with me friends and now… no need to wait anymore :)
    btw I agree with mosurock.

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