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(Credit: Rob Loud)

Music

The Killers’ Brandon Flowers on “the most powerful piece of music” he’s ever encountered

With The Killers, Brandon Flowers has transcended the rather (un)glamorous world of indie rock ‘n’ roll and become a mainstream mainstay. In fact, remarkably, ‘Mr Brightside’ has made it into the UK singles charts over 260 times—that makes it just about the most successful indie song of all time, not bad for a track that only started out with a kiss. 

However, its success comes as little surprise given that Flowers and his band have always set their sights on delivering music that packs a punch. “We want to be important and to last,” he once declared. As such, he looked at things that had lasted and took inspiration from the likes of John Lennon and eternally chanted anthems like Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. In short, records with staying power. 

However, there are more ways to weave your way to the top than penning the sort of chantable classic that gets wailed back in a volley at festivals and belted out on drunken weekends. Kate Bush is someone who tackles things with more of an ethereal air. Her tracks don’t last because they’re robust, but for pretty much the opposite reason—they are hymns that get the white glove treatment and last through a powerful allure. 

When Flowers was thinking about his favourite records and how they shaped him, he noted that the majesty of Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work’ continues to move him. “It’s one of the most powerful pieces of music that I’ve encountered,” Flowers dotingly stated. “It was in [the 1988 John Hughes movie] She’s Having a Baby when I was little, and even then I knew, like, I really like this song. And now that I’m older, it just sticks with me. It’s perfect.”

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It’s a track that continues to bring a tear to his eye. “It just affects me, man,” he said of its mystic prowess. In this regard, it is quintessential Bush. And it was a masterstroke for Hughes to enlist her help to work on the soundtrack. There is always a lightness to the weight that Bush can offer and that made her perfect for a film filled with comedy and pathos. 

As she told NME: “It was written for John Hughes’ film She’s Having A Baby. Really light comedy about this young guy who gets married, very much a kid. His wife is pregnant and it’s alright until they get to the hospital and the baby’s in the breach position.”

Adding: “That’s the sequence I have to write the songs about and it’s really very moving, him in the waiting room, having flashbacks of his wife and him going for walks, decoration… It’s exploring his sadness and guilt, suddenly it’s the point where he has to grow up. He’d been such a wally up to this point.”

This juxtaposition gives the track an encompassing feeling—it braces tragedy with the sort of exultant levity that helps one make sense of the other. Flowers looked to capture a similar theme with ‘Read My Mind’, thus, its perhaps no surprise that he calls the resultant floaty record “the best song we’ve ever written”, and in typical Bush fashion he opines, “It doesn’t matter if we’re in a bar or an arena or a stadium or a festival or to 50 people, when ‘Read My Mind’ starts, the room changes.”

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