Category Archives: Palomino

Palomino – The Daily Duranie Review

Palomino is on the “B” side to Big Thing. It is one of their dreamier ballads and may not have gained much notice from casual listeners, as it was not released as a single.  The song was derived from another called “Welcome to the Edge,” during recording sessions, and has an entirely different set of lyrics.

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation:

Aside from some background synthesizers, the song opens only with Simon’s voice, and it makes you feel as though you’re in the beginning of a dream. I really like the background sounds of what sounds like drumsticks being hit on the floor or on metal just for timing. The guitar doesn’t really come in until the second stanza of verse, and even then it is used very sparingly, only to add a bit of texture…and then during the chorus you hear bass and drums to round out the rhythm.  During the break, the synthesizers come in with some random (and echoed) partial note successions – not quite a real solo, but not really melody either, just very unique, and it works. This is a case where not one instrument aside from Simon’s vocals are the highlight – everything else is perfectly balanced, and yet there is an incredible amount of tracks and layering. I think the song is a perfect example of how Duran Duran felt comfortable with musical “quiet”. The spaces were as important as the notes, and the result is a beautiful number.

Vocals:

All I can think of to say right now is how much I wish they’d play this song live. Simon’s voice is incredible, and as I listen with my earbuds I would swear I could feel him whispering words in my ear.  There is no straining, and the dynamics he uses – going from singing loudly to dramatically whispering – really add to the song. There are really no critiques I could make here, except to say that this is Simon at his finest.

Lyrics:

According to an old Ask Katy found on Duran Duran wikia – the chorus lyric comes from a quote from Picasso.  Apparently when Picasso was asked during the height of his blue period what he does when he runs out of blue, he replied, “Why, I use red instead.”  I love this anecdote…and it is a great example of where Simon seems to get his inspiration. (From everywhere!!) As for the rest of the lyrics, I am not sure what they mean. I know what I draw from them – and the line “If there’s secrets she has to be party to,” kind of makes me think of hiding something.  How this person puts on an act, maybe pretending to be happy and content when in fact she’s not – and during the moments when she’s able, she runs free. I especially like the line Simon uses from the Picasso story “When I run out of blue, give me red instead, now let me run.”  That line speaks to me and reminds me of when I escape reality once in a while.  I love the lyrics because I don’t necessarily understand what Simon was really trying to drive home – but I’ve found my own meaning for the song.  (Yes Simon, your lyrics are for thinking people, which I love most about this band!)

Overall:

Here’s the strange thing about Big Thing and this song in particular…I don’t think I really appreciated the B sides until I was in my thirties. I’m not sure if it’s life experience or my tastes have generally changed, but when I listen to this song, I just wonder what critics are missing. (Brain cells, most likely.) Everything we want from Duran Duran is evident right here.  There is so much here to like, and really nothing I can find fault with – typically I might complain about the lack of guitar, bass and drums, but in this song it feels natural and perfect as is.

Cocktail Rating:

5 Cocktails!5 cocktails

Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:

The music is very subtle and is very much in the background in the beginning of the song.  The music reminds me almost of wind chimes until some more instrumentation comes in around the minute mark.  Even with the addition of guitar, bass and percussion, the music remains subtle and calm until the chorus kicks in.  Then, there is more of the full instrumentation that we are all used to.  The song has a definite balance with keyboards getting a little more of the spotlight in creating some of those extra sounds that are heard, especially in the bridge.  The music, no matter if it is quiet and subtle in the beginning or more full-blown instrumentation, is very beautiful.  I like how the music changes from quiet to louder as it works to keep one’s attention in a slower number.

Vocals:

I really love the vocals on this one from the humming to the beginning to deep, breathy verses.  I’ve always been a fan of Simon at his lower range and a lot of this song seems to hang out there, at least in the verses.  The chorus also has a nice touch with the backing vocals.  It adds a layer that deepens the song.  The only part of the vocals that I have never been sure of is the “talking”, “chanting” said in a rather abrupt manner in comparison to the rest.  I just think those parts work to break the mood a bit too much.  Other than that, the vocals are fabulous.

Lyrics:

This is one of those songs that could be about a woman.  It could be about a horse.  It could be a metaphor for something completely different.  It is a beautiful lyric that really matches the mood of the song.  Of course, the focus on colors makes sense after knowing that it comes from a quote from Pablo Picasso.  The quote came after he was asked about what he would do when he runs out of blue and Picasso said that he would use red instead.  Beyond the focus on color, it does definitely bring up a sense of culture outside of the Western world with the mention of “Arabia” and the sense of a desert.  I almost get the sense that the song could be about mother nature hearing all of humanity’s secrets and needing humans to speak for her and for her needs.  I adore lyrics like this one.  Not only are they beautiful by just reading them in a straight forward way, but they also make me think.  They make me wonder what is it all about.

Overall:

Palomino is one of those songs that could be easily missed on an album.  It could be one that floats into the background, easily ignored.  Yet, that would be a mistake.  It features really subtle but beautiful instrumentation that coincides with the poetry of Simon’s lyrics and his deep vocals.  There isn’t much that I would change about this song other than maybe the way the word “talking” and “chatting” is said in the song.  I like that the lyrics make me wonder while it creates a mood of calmness.

Cocktail Rating:

 4.5 cocktails!
4.5 Cocktails

 

Interpretations of Palomino

This week, for my weekly analysis of Duran song lyrics, I decided to tackle the song, Palomino off of the Big Thing album.  Why choose this song of all their songs?  Simple.  It has been suggested a few times.  Now, I have to admit that when this song was requested, I wasn’t that excited.  I don’t feel like I have a connection at all to this song.  It is one of those Duran songs that I would have to go through album lists to come up with.  It is one, for me, that faded into the background.  It isn’t that I don’t like the song.  It just isn’t one that I love or hate.  No strong emotional reactions pop up when it comes on.  Perhaps, though, this is the best reason to analyze it.  Maybe, I will get more of a connection by doing so.

As always, I begin my analysis by posting a video of the song and the lyrics.  Now, this track did not have an official video but I was able to find this live gem from the Milan show in 1988:

Lyrics:
She lays on the wall watching the strangers drift away. Mid-day’s o’er thick with the sun of Arabia. She surrenders her voices; they gather on the wind – talking, chanting, breathing into her body. Yesterdays. Mmm mmm mmm mmm. Awaken beside the scent of burnt sugar on her skin. Painting eyes -thick- with the colour she brings in. Oh, it’s sure and strong as the lightning tumbles down. Don’t you frown. Everything will be in time for this evening.

(bridge)
If there’s secrets she has to be party to everyone of them. If there’s heaven she gets to the heart and you’ll wonder…

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

(bridge)
If there’s secrets she has to be party to everyone of them. If there’s heaven she gets to the heart and you’ll know just…

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

Hey! Hey!

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

What kind of theories are out there about what this song means?  Well, interestingly enough, this song was the topic of 2 Ask Katy questions.  In those answers, Simon mentioned that the chorus came from a quote from the famous artist, Pablo Picasso.  The quote was a response to a question that asked Picasso what he did when he ran out of blue paint to which he responded, “Why, I use red instead!”  The connection to this quote of Picasso’s is obvious.  The other Ask Katy response by Simon mentioned that the song is about a beautiful girl he has known.  Would that make sense?  Well, the pronoun used is a she.

The internet theories about this one aren’t numerous but do include the following:

*A Horse

*Drugs

As always, let’s take them one at a time.  Palomino is a coat color in horses in which the horse has a gold coat and a white mane.  These types of horses are often featured in movies and in parades.  Their origin is most likely European/Asian with a rich history in Spain and is a Spanish word.  Do the lyrics fit this type of  horse?  The first verse could be talking about a horse spending her day outside with the wind.  Color is emphasized as well with the line “Painting eyes -thick – with the colour she brings in”.  The only line that throws me slightly is the line about Arabia.  The image then that pops into my mind is that of a desert and bright sunshine.  Were Palomino horses found in Arabia?  Maybe, they were in the Crusades??  A horse could definitely take in secrets in that she would be around to hear all the people talking and she could, as any animal like this could, get into someone’s heart and be loved by that person.  The chorus could also fit this with the image of letting someone run.  Does this mesh with Simon’s statement that it is about a beautiful girl.  Sure could.  That beautiful girl could be a horse.

What about the other commonly suggested theory that it was about drugs?  According to the theory, the burning of sugar is related to drug use.  To me, this is quite a stretch.  Yes, I realize that the use of some drugs require burning them in a spoon to liquify them.  Yet, it isn’t sugar that this is done with.  Could sugar stand for the drug?  I suppose but there doesn’t seem to be much else in the song to indicate drug use.  On the other hand, that sugar could be referring to the white mane of a palomino horse or even sugar cubes that the horse could have.

To summarize, I think in all likelihood the song is about a horse.  Could it be about a woman who is outside, is told secrets, is able to be loved, and is able to let someone run or be free?  Absolutely, it could.  We find this pattern throughout Duran’s history, haven’t we?  Take Leopard for example.  Is it about a leopard or a woman?  Either way, those theories make a lot more sense than the drug use one!  Now, what should I analyze next?!

-A