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Wrapped In Grey ( XTC Andy Partridge Cover ) 04.14.09

I think XTC would have had a much bigger following – and I’m sure the band is well aware of this – if chief songwriter Andy Partridge had been able to overcome his stage fright issues and distaste for touring. I can relate. I tried to play this song live in 2005 in front of some friends and co-workers. It was a disaster. For me, it has a complex chord structure, and if you lose your way midway through, there’s no recovery.

I wish I had been old enough to see XTC early on in their career, before they stopped touring in 1982. (Personally, I don’t think it’s too late. Come on fellas! Money money money! College tuitions! That summer cottage in Brighton!) Along with songwriter Colin Moulding, and ace session man/multi-instrumentalist Dave Gregory, XTC has written some of the best classic pop of the last 30 years. Wrapped In Grey is probably my favourite though. It’s hard to choose. The song was supposed to be the third single from the Nonesuch album from 1992 (produced by Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon!), but for some reason, got pulled. I was angry at the time, because I wanted the Wrapped In Grey cd single. I am, and always will be a collector. See albatross wall unit of “product” in video clip.

The song has a very dense chord progression; it’s very ornate, almost baroque even. It’s a true work of art, and it’s the only song I hope to sing that strings the words “unconscious grotesques” in its lyric. My sibalance meter went into the red on a couple of occasions.

In 1991, some friends and I drove up to Barrie Ontario for the first-ever Canadian XTC fan convention. I believe it was organized by The Little Express fanzine publisher and longtime XTC admirer Peter Dix. It was in a hotel room. There were less than 40 people there. Great entertainment that day though, including cover bands by musician/fans Paul Myers (Gravelberrys), Martin Tielli (Rheostatics) and others. XTC even made an “in conversation with” video for the event, and it screened there exclusively for us fanboys. (There may have been three girls there in total, including the organizer’s wife.) I got my cassette copy of XTC’s “Window Box” 4-song demo there. Yowza.

I was lucky enough to meet Andy Partridge at the now defunct Tower Records in Toronto in 1999 or 2000, at the Apple Venus Volume One signing. I have Skylarking (1986), Oranges And Lemons (1989), Nonesuch (1992) and Apple Venue Volume One (1999) signed. Lucky fanboy me! What did we talk about? Of all things, Céline Dion!!! (I used to be her website designer.)

This song is not easy to sing. The final line is a total bitch. Life is too short; I just yelped it out. Thanks a lot Andy!

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