18 June 2012

Devin Loves The Human League

I asked my friend Devin some of the things that he loved and that loved him back so to speak. On his list of stuff that stirred his soul was The Human League. He said their music was the closest thing he had to relegion. You gotta love that level of passion and indeed I had admired his level of admiration in the past through observing his devoted postings that expressed his intense feelings of excitement over a new album release or a concert appearance etc, but I thought I'd like to know more about his love for this band that gives him so much.
  Lets face it, music is pretty much one of the greatest things about being human. When I think of humans and humanity, I gotta say, I'll let a lot slide due to the incredible phenomena that is the music we produce. When I began to read Devin's answers and listen to the band " The Human League", it all seemed to be symbolic of our collective relationship with music. This blog is about nurturing our essential humanity, nothing nurtures the human soul like music, and then there is this band with the name "The Human League", and hits with names like "Human", it all seemed rather profound.
  I love the 80's as much as anyone whose childhood and impressionable years were accompanied by its uplifting soundtrack. The Human League as a band did not mean much to me, I couldn't put a song to that bands name to a song to be honest, but as I listened to their awesome hits, all which are of course familiar and fantastic, and began to read Devin's responses to my questions, I really began to understand how this band helps Devin love himself and indeed how we all get so much love from the music that touches are souls. Of course this band transcends just the hits and the 80's for Devin. I respect that. I remember reading an interview with A-Ha and the lead singer saying something along the line of, "Well to some people we are a one hit wonder band and to others we are a nine studio album band that has gotten better and better". I found that interesting. Devin's a real fan who appreciates this band as artists with a large body of work and they inspire him and his art. Thanks for sharing this with me Devo. I have enjoyed loving me a little like you love you; it was great listening to these songs, I appreciate them more now.
For some reason I feel like I should have quoted the chorus from "Human" somewhere in this intro, you know, that would have been deep. However, I know that Devin's responses to my questions below will fulfill any desire for depth you may have.

What are your top 5 Human league songs and why do they touch you?

(Keep Feeling) Fascination - it's just a fun song that almost everyone who hears it loves, and the chorus has a good message. It's so easy in life to become jaded, over it, frustrated and bored. You have to make a conscious decision to keep enjoying and appreciating whatever you can.

Human - this was my first favorite Human League song but it also holds universal truths - we all screw up sometimes and need to allow those close to us to make mistakes too, it's so important to be able to forgive.

Heart Like a Wheel - this song came out when I was in 8th grade and the gulf war started. It bridged a gap for me between my sheltered, teeny bopper world of pop music and the very real, political and grown-up consequences of living in a nation at war. Plus, I thought Susanne Sulley looked like a babe on the CD cover.

Seconds - when I was in 5th grade, our music teacher let us each bring one song to play for the class. I chose this song. It's so powerful and minimalist, the perfect combination of man and machine. My mom told me about when John F. Kennedy was shot, and even after all that time had passed I felt the sorrow in her voice. I think like many people my age, we grew up with the sadness of his assassination born into us.

Never Let Me Go - this song just came out last year so I have to give them props for continuing with their musical careers way past what most people would have thought. If you listen to the lyrics as an analogy to their desire to remain pop stars, it's very interesting. They don't want you to pass them up for the younger pop stars. They just can't let it go.

How does The Human Leagues music empower you?

I was never much of a religious person. I was surrounded by it, growing up in conservative rural Kansas, but I just didn't relate to it. I needed something to believe in, to hold on to, and the Human League's story resonated more with me more than anything I had learned in Sunday School. They made their own path in life, despite people telling them they weren't talented, and they played keyboards instead of guitars or drums even though at that time it wasn't considered "real" music. It made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted also. 

When did your fascination with The Human League begin?

In grade school I found a magazine at my cousin's house with a picture of the Human League, and an article about how their videos had helped make MTV so popular. I already knew their songs "Human" and of course, "Don't You Want Me." But when I read about how they had recorded two albums prior to the girls joining the group, and that everyone thought the band would fail at that point when they went on to become one of the most successful British bands of the 80's, it was very intriguing to me. It was a rags to riches story, and I connected with it because I grew up in a poor family in the middle of nowhere but also longed for fame and fortune. 

How does The Human League help you love yourself, or nurture yourself?

I can find meaning in their lyrics when I need it, sometimes I find things I never noticed before that helps me deal with things from day to day. They inspire me to take myself seriously and never give up on my dreams, but to also have a sense of humor about myself and to be humble.

Is there a time in your life, a tough experience, where this music has really helped you?
In the early 2000's when I was first making my way in Los Angeles, my brother had left and I was in LA all by myself. I didn't have any family or friends that I had known for longer than a year when the "Secrets" album came out. I found the lyrics on that album to be far deeper, psychological and full of symbolism, more so than any of their previous albums. It just so happened at the time I was going through situations and emotions that were more than I had ever dealt with before. I think Phil Oakey described the lyrics of that album as something like a sonic nervous breakdown, and I just found lots of little cryptic hints that maybe what I was going through wasn't so unusual or horrific, and that maybe I would make it out OK. 

What are your favorite memories of seeing or meeting The Human League?

Seeing them perform at Sheffield City Hall, their hometown, in 2003 was amazing, but I think seeing them at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills around 2002 was my favorite show. Of course seeing them perform to sold out crowds at the Hollywood Bowl twice (I think in '06 and in '11) was also very cool.

How does The Human League inspire you?
They are so dedicated and persistent. Anytime I feel like giving up, I just remember that they never have, since I was born. They formed around the same time I came into this world, and we both just keep trucking along!