“Love vigilantes” came around on my ITunes while I was fixing dinner. A Laura Cantrell song I must have downloaded ages ago, but only tonight popped into the foreground. It was haunting, about a homesick soldier who finally gets his “leave” and flies home–to find his wife on the floor clutching a telegram that “said that I was a brave, brave men but that I was dead.” It was strangely familiar, but weirdly hard to pinpoint, as if from some distant era. World War I? The Korean War? Vietnam?
Actually you only have to go back to 1985. The band: New Order. I didn’t recognize this stripped-down version. I had heard it countless times before, but never, to my shame, paid much attention to the lyrics. At first I thought Persian Gulf War, but the years didn’t line up. The Falklands seems the most likely, though it could be any war.
It took Laura Cantrell (much beloved of John Peel, who of course also loved New Order) to find the beautiful, sad, ghostly ballad inside New Order’s Wall o’ Sound.
What an unearthly, powerful song, in both versions.
New Order, live in Japan 1985
Laura Cantrell, 2008