The Infinite Jukebox: The Cocteau Twins’ ‘Orange-Appled’


Some years ago, I forgot to recharge my mp3 player ahead of a long train journey. This reminded me that I still had a portable Minidisc player, and over three dozen MDs, which would make a brilliant substitute (I then forgot to bring my headphones).
But this stash of MDs was a massive musical treasure trove, comprised of music taped, mainly from the radio, over not just years but decades. For the next few months, I had a wonderful time playing these Minidiscs, compiling track-listings, checking off the tracks that I had, in the meantime, collected on CD, whether shop-bought or self-burnt, and starting a vast programme of creating more compilation CDs from the outstanding tracks.
Many of these were recorded off the radio, with intros clipped, or DJs talking extensively over the intros and outros. Now, with YouTube at my fingertips, I could download clean copies of them, complete and uninterrupted. Several tracks had been ‘bounced down’ more than once and were not in that good a condition and they too were downloaded, clean.
The best of it was that there were dozens of songs that I had not merely forgotten I had but which I had also forgotten existed. A load of music dropped into my lap, to enlighten and enliven me.
Amongst this avalanche of virtually ‘new’ music were a couple of dozen tracks that I had so completely forgotten that I couldn’t remember what they were! Artist, title, a lot of the time both. Most of these were relatively easy to recover by googling a line of dialogue for the song, but there were two particular instances where this was not going to work. These were three French-language songs from Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and four tracks by The Cocteau Twins.
Ok then, given that the Cocteau Twins’ songs rarely have actual words in them, let alone recognisable ones, how do you go about establishing the title of a forgotten song? I could limit the hunt by excluding all the tracks on the CDs I had, and also all those I had never bought in the first place, but that still left an awful lot of songs to choose amongst.
And this was such a different track, bright, buoyant, structured more like a conventional song than most of the band’s repertoire, with actual, detectable verses, and a build to an astonishingly upbeat and passionate chorus that came round over and again. The orthodox song structure, the bright and forthright sound, made this an unusual track from the band to begin with.
It’s one of those sounds where you don’t really need the words to sense the meaning of the words. Elizabeth Fraser sings with a mixture of joy and yearning in her voice, and as with all great choruses, you find yourself wanting to share the sound, sing out loud and proud with her. And the music is built upon Simon Raymonde’s springy bass and Robin Guthrie’s rich, rotund guitar, a miniature wall of sound.
It’s called ‘Orange Appled’, a title I re-discovered by playing snippets of intros from Cocteau Twins tracks on YouTube until I hit the right one. It’s a song from 1986, the period where the trio were calling songs by butterfly’s names, and it appeared on the ‘Love’s Easy Tears’ 12” EP. And despite my disavowal of Cocteau’s songs not having actual words, you can find full lyrics from several online sites.
There’s a substantial discrepancy between what one site has for the verse, and what four or five others put down but there’s a definite consensus on the chorus: He loves you more than this,
The stars let you know all’s right and bright and, He loves you more than this, Ego lets him know that’s how much more was gained.
And armed with these words, I listen to the song again, and I strain my ears, and I can just about agree that Elizabeth Fraser is singing this, and then I put the words away and listen again and once more my ears are unable to translate that slightly husky, flowing river of sounds into words, but I catch the meaning in the voice and it doesn’t matter.
But if YouTube had not come along in the meantime, I would still not know what this song was called. The ignorance would have itched, but the song would have been an eternal balm.

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