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The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.
“Yup, it’s a love song,” John Cale confirms at the start of the documentary-style intro to the music video for his latest single, “NOISE OF YOU.”
“When I started sketching this song,” he continues, “it was all about the atmosphere. It made me recall wintertime in Prague. As the instrumentation came together, it felt like something I wanted to hear on 1960s AM radio about a guy trying to get the love of his life back. Yup, it’s a love song.”
Enter: a bed of synths far too advanced for 1960s AM radio, pulsating beneath a disembodied falsetto croon. “When does love start?,” he muses over the soundscape as the track’s 45-second instrumental intro plays on, “and when does love end?”
The remaining five minutes of “NOISE OF YOU” are, as promised, heartbreaking. “Bells ring out, the snow falls / The choir is finishing its song,” the first verse begins, setting the scene for a beautiful, lonely winter. “Your footsteps on the stairs, meet at the River House / To say goodbye, to say goodbye.”
For the rest of the song, Cale is trapped in reverie, hanging onto the sound of those fateful steps, the last remaining thread connecting him to his old flame. “I don’t tend to romanticize the idea of love,” he writes in a press release. “It represents ’need’ and that’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with. When it gets ahold of you though — don’t let go — no matter how many times you mess it up!”
The song’s Pepi Ginsberg-directed visual treatment — more short film than music video — adds depth to an already unfathomable piece of art. “I was so inspired by John’s relationship to process and collaboration and wanted to mirror his approach to art in this video for ’NOISE OF YOU,’ which John describes as a love song,” Ginsberg explains. “Setting out to make a ‘moving’ portrait of John, we have mapped images and video of John’s life over his former home of New York City, creating a conversation between past and present, reflecting the way that distant, and sometimes dissonant, voices can reach across divides of space and time to speak their own language of love.”
Cale interjects his voice throughout the clip, speaking over his lovingly crafted arrangement. “I want to be the one to fill your heart with joy,” he says as his synthetic orchestra plays him off. “I want to be the one to hand you the future, starting now.”
Watch Ginsberg’s short, stream the song sans commentary, and view Cale’s upcoming European tour dates below.