Revenge Recommends: "Spirit Of 76" by The Alarm



A paean to youthful idealism (or juvenile naivety), Spirit of '76 was the epitome of the Alarm's earnest and heartfelt 1980s Celtic rock.

Substituting raw emotion and an often misplaced social conscience for the leer, sneer, and jeer that had defined previous incarnations of rock music, the 80s saw the rise of a generation of bands – U2, Simple Minds, Big Country, New Model Army, etc. – whose defining characteristic was earnestness and a sense of camaraderie with their audience. The Alarm was perhaps the clearest example of this trend; although an ultimate lack of idealism and camaraderie within the band meant that the outfit's two main musical forces Mike Peters and Dave Sharp went their separate ways in 1991.

Written by Mike Peters on a train journey from North Wales to London, the song appeared on the band's second album, 1985's Strength. The song’s title is a pun on the famous painting by Archibald MacNeal Willard, depicting the Revolutionary War in America, which started in 1776. The song, however, refers to 1976, with lyrics wistfully looking back to Mike Peter's idealistic adolescence, when the Sex Pistols were leading the punk revolution. There is also a reference to The Beatles as “Four lads who shook the world,” suggestive of the limitless ambition of youth. The song however charts the withering of youthful idealism and ambition in the face of the grim reality of 80s Britain.

Lyrics:

Well I find myself in reverie
'bout what we might have had
and what might have been
We had something going once
That was such a long, long time ago
It was way back in '76
Our friendship formed of pure innocence
We first met in Mathew Street
where we heard something that would set us free
A sign stands over a door, it says
"Four lads who shook the world"
In the depths of those heady nights
we would dream of those bright lights
Oh my friend, Oh my friend, Oh my friend


And my friend John, he went away
and he made some mistakes
Spent time in Walton jail
And now when I see him we still talk
but there's no light shining in his eyes
And Susie, she was seventeen
and more beauty in this world
I swear you'll never see
I was gonna be king
and she was gonna be queen
but now all she does is hide behind the tears
If there was more sense in this world
and work wasn't so hard to find
you would not be going your way
I would not be going mine
Oh my friend, Oh my friend, Oh my friend
Somewhere tonight out on the street
somewhere beneath this city's heat
in the eyes of strangers who pass me by
well life is cruel and so unkind
Oh, Oh the SPIRIT OF '76


And Pete has seen his dreams come true
but that don't make him no hero
He's just one of the lucky few
If a man can't change the world these days
I still believe a man can change his own destiny
But the price is high that has got to be paid
For everyone who survives there are many who fail
I've seen my friends caught out in that crossfire
All their dreams and hopes smashed on the funeral pyre
I will never give in until the day I die
I’ll get myself some independence
carve out a future with my two bare hands
Oh my friend, Oh my friend, Oh my friend
Somewhere tonight out on the street
somewhere beneath this city's heat
in the eyes of strangers who pass me by
well life is cruel and so unkind
Oh, Oh the SPIRIT OF '76


Mersey lights shine in the distance
same as they did for us then
Mersey lights shine bright in the distance
Where are you now my friend?
You see some nights when I can't sleep
I still think of you
of all the promises, all our dreams we shared
I know those lights still call to you
I can hear them now
I can hear them now
Still shining for us
Let em shine


(Can you hear them)
(Can you hear them)


Lights are still shining
Somewhere tonight out on the street
somewhere beneath this city's heat
in the eyes of strangers who pass me by
Oh life is cruel and so unkind
Oh- Oh
Where's it gone
The SPIRIT OF '76


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