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Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Still and always

Here's the rest of that lovely article on Time Goes By So Slow by Martin CrookallThe first half is here, and be sure to check out Martin's essay on Nobody's Perfect - we look forward to bringing you news of the forthcoming LP and expanded CD reissue of that album very soon.


The Infinite Jukebox: The Distractions' "Time Goes By So Slow"




Though the Finney/Perrin partnership was The Distractions’ main source of songs, it was Adrian Wright who wrote “Time Goes By So Slow”. It’s a typically Distractions mournful lost love song, conducted with great vigour, in a rush of bass and drums, guitar and organ. Never has misery sounded so much of a rush.

And at a time when I was conscious of living in another city, where I had no roots, Finney was singing about places with which I was wonderfully familiar. They put your statue up in Albert Square, he sings to the girl who has blown him out and about whom he still dreams. And all the people standing by just stare. But Albert just won’t do, Finney sings, I don’t need him but you. When Nick Lowe had gone to the Heart of the City that was it, just a generic place, every city’s got one, but Mike Finney singing Adrian Wright’s words was in the heart of a real city and I could picture its streets and, when I came home, I could drive those pre-pedestrianised streets and pass by and not care. 

But it was more than the call to home that led me to take this song to heart. I was in love, and had been for a long time, with a woman from whom I was forced to conceal my feelings, and melancholy was my place, my Albert Square. I loved the brashness, the simplicity, the energy of punk whilst never foregoing my love for the stunning chorus, the line that pulls you in to lend your inadequate voice, to find a space inside the song that makes you a part of it. 

If I’ve a criticism of the record at all, it’s that it’s ending is a little weak. In the first use of a trick the band would later make a regular part of their repertoire, after the second chorus the music drops out, leaving only the bass and drums, lowering the tension. Well I wonder why you had to go, Finney croons, repeating himself, and again, as the music crashes back with the timeline, but only so that it can lead the record to a definitive end instead of one more valedictory rush. 

Interestingly enough, “Time Goes By So Slow” was originally meant for the b-side. It and the song “Pillow Fight” had been recorded after the 'You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That' EP and were the only other recordings in existence when Factory offered the deal. “Pillow Flight” was offered as the a-side but the single was flipped at Tony Wilson’s suggestion. But “Time Goes By So Slow” had been treated as a b-side in the studio, recorded almost live, with minimal overdubs added and harmonies that simply consisted of following Steve Perrin’s lead. 

Apparently, the whole thing took about three hours total, and that just adds to the purity of the song. Maybe a more polished version might have been better, but I doubt it, because this song has no sag, no weariness, no over familiarity. It’s pure, it’s complete, and it’s raw edges complement the rawness of the feelings. 

Nearly forty years later, the song is still as fresh as ever, the loss is undiminished, and when she has to go, time still and always will go by so slow.



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