It’s hard for me to put into words just why I hold The Beat so close to my heart. I’ve always felt a bit inadequate as a writer. So it’s tempting to simply say, “I just love them a whole lot and stuff, okay!”
As I near thirty (yikes!) I’m finding that most of my original adolescent hardness has melted away. That used to be my whole personality. I’m less mean, less unrelenting, less scornful. But definitely not less passionate toward the things I care about. All that old bloodymindedness has just morphed into something more positive, and now that energy and enthusiasm is more available to lift up the good things. That sort of maturity to complain less and to instead be constructive is part of what I get from The Beat.
When I first became acquainted with Dave, Roger, and co. it was through one of my best friends, who was new to me then as well. We shared a love for The Clash initially– which is how we met– and she remains one of the most important people in the world to me (hi, chum ❤️️). I grew up in an apolitical household, so those kinds of values came to me via music and friends. The Clash began that foundation, and groups like The Beat fleshed it out. And the thing with The Beat is that their stance was always wrapped in a very special empathy, level-headedness, and warmth. It was a much more sophisticated and down to earth approach. Not, “Fuck off Thatcher, you monster,” but, “Stand down, Margaret. Stand down PLEASE.” And where The Clash were often po-faced and painfully solemn, or someone like Gang of Four were winking in an intellectual way, or your Billy Braggs were straight-up folk protest music, The Beat were still quite serious but also cheeky and exuberant. There is no sense of a towering lecture in their music. And it wasn’t just politics all the time. They also gave us a lot of introspective emotional turmoil, though delivered on top of perversely happy music. It’s the sound of someone pouring their multi-faceted heart out to you over a crackling and buoyant backdrop.
Also as someone who feels like a bit of an outsider anyway– a neurotic, insecurity-riddled, late-blooming, biracial, bicultural woman, I just feel like The Beat get me. They were a cohesive and supportive unit, but composed of this beautiful blend of backgrounds, cultures, races, and ages. No one else was really like that.
The way that I feel about The Beat is, like, cellular. I grin like a maniac when I’m absorbed in them and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. There is always so much going on within a single moment in a Beat song, and you could listen to the same song every day (which I do) and still hear something new each time (which I also do). Physically it’s busy, kinetic music. They push you and pull you and don’t let up, so the natural reflex to them is to MOVE. Those fidgeting and slashing guitars, that bubbling bass, that trotting beat, those punctuating saxophone flourishes. And on top of that, the wonderful contrast between Dave’s bleak and angsty songwriting, and Roger’s joyous toasting, and everything performed with such relish– there’s just something for every little center in the brain.
And they are one of my Life Bands. They have seen me through various iterations of myself, and their music keeps me afloat when everything else is sort of just precariously stitched together. In grand ways, and in little peripheral ways. When I’m feeling angry and indignant, I can throw on “Get-A-Job” or “Two Swords” and revel in the perfect balance between earnest commentary and cutting humor. If I’m feeling excluded and weird, I can croon along in solidarity to “Too Nice to Talk To” and “All Out to Get You.” And if I’m feeling broken and aimless and alone, I can take shelter in the all-enveloping hug that is “Save it For Later” and it just washes over my whole self and my heart is full. When you’re a solitary and intense type, sometimes what you ask of music is a pretty tall order. It’s camaraderie, it’s well-being, it’s a sense of healing. You want a big bundle of sounds that make you feel good. The Beat are that for me, and I am so grateful that they have existed in this oftentimes nonsensically cruel world. 🖤 ♡
“Because it’s strictly love and unity we a deal in today.”