One for Friday: The Icicle Works, “Understanding Jane”

I’ve known a couple great people named Jane, but I never got around to making the mix that provided a song by song tribute to their name. I’ve long felt like there were an abundance of songs about women named Jane (not to mention a few fine offerings by women named Jane), but maybe its just that there are enough absolutely great songs about Janes that it skews my perception.

Even though I never actually sat down to assemble the mix, I was always certain that “Understanding Jane” by The Icicle Works would have a spotlight position. It bold and urgent enough to lead off the mix, but it’s somehow always struck me as a closing credits kind of song, maybe because of the element of lost love and memory that’s an integral part of the lyrics. It feels more like the end of the story than the beginning.

Besides inevitably stirring memories of my favorite Janes, this song is also a prime example of the way my immersion in college radio occasionally contributed to a topsy-turvy perception of which songs represented the peaks of a band’s popularity. In my mind, this song remains the biggest hit by The Icicle Works, the song of theirs that I heard and played on the radio more than any other. Of course, for the people not existing in the Bizarro World that is my head, it is a completely different song that comes to mind in the rare instances that the band’s name is mentioned. I remember a college-era conversation in which a friend insisted that “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” was the song that everyone knew, leaving me utterly perplexed. The gulf between my musical taste and that of the rest of the world couldn’t have seemed vaster than it did at that moment.

So I guess it wasn’t just Jane that I had trouble understanding.

The Icicle Works, “Understanding Jane”

(Disclaimer: It sure looks to me like the album that contains this song is out of print, a fate that’s also befallen the band’s “best of” collection. Some more concerted detective work might unearth an available means to purchase this song fair and square, but my diligence is about as due as it’s gonna get. This song is, therefore, posted her with the belief that it’s unavailable through conventional means that would dependably provide remuneration to the artist or to a friendly neighborhood record store. If someone who holds some level of control of this material doesn’t like its presence on this corner of the Interweb, I will gladly remove it.)