Television – Marquee Moon

What a cool and unusual song this is. I heard it a while back but never really got it until I was on my blogging break. Kept playing it and it just goes into your head and doesn’t come out. I say that in a good way…not a bad earworm way. It’s a huge song that can wrap you around its finger.

It’s an interesting listen with moving parts all the way through. It didn’t get me on the first time but by the second and third I was hooked.

I like the guitar interplay between guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd in this almost 10-minute song.Ā  The Marquee Moon album was released in February 1977, the title track was the most radio accessible, but not something that could get radio play in America. It was also a tough sell because the band wasn’t known outside of New York. The album did peak at #28 in the UK in 1977…while the song peaked at #30. The single release was split into two parts because one side of a 45 could not contain the entire song. Part I runs at 3:13, and Part II is at 6:45. Tom Verlaine is credited for writing the song.

The song started out as an acoustic song in 1974. They kept working on the song while they were regulars at the club CBGB in New York City.Ā  That club was also the home for bands like Blondie, The Ramones, and the Talking Heads. They honed the song through live performance and diligent rehearsal, so when they recorded the album in 1976, they had perfected it. The entire album was recorded and mixed in just three weeks.

A few months after the album was released, Television opened for Peter Gabriel on the American leg of his first solo tour. They made another album in 1978, but broke up three months later, returning in 1991 with one last album.

They influenced punk and alternative music but the band is far from the prototypical punk band. This band knew how to play and play well.

Richard Lloyd: “It’s like a mini-symphony. Towards the end of the song, Tom gets a long solo, and he would often meander through parts of it, but we had it structured. I do the song on my own as well, and it’s really quite structured: There’s a part that’s loud and there’s a part that’s soft, and there’s a build-up, then there’s a climb – there’s actually three sets of climbs – then there’s what we call the ‘birdies,’ and then another section and then the verse comes back in. So it was pretty well structured after that period of time of aching to look for proper parts for it. And there’s a great deal of syncopation going on in it with the drums coming in sounding backwards and my part that trills off the one. It’s not easy to learn.”

Marquee Moon

I rememberOoh, how the darkness doubledI recallLightning struck itself

I was listeningListening to the rainI was hearingHearing something else

Life in the hive puckered up my nightA kiss of death, the embrace of lifeOoh, there I stand neath the Marquee MoonJust waiting

I spoke to a manDown at the tracksAnd I ask himHow he don’t go madHe said, “look here, junior, don’t you be so happyAnd for heaven’s sake, don’t you be so sad”

Life in the hive puckered up my nightThe kiss of death, the embrace of lifeOoh, there I stand ‘neath the Marquee MoonHesitating

Well, the CadillacIt pulled out of the graveyardPulled up to meAll they said, “get in, get in”Then the CadillacIt puttered back into the graveyardMe, I got out again

Life in the hive puckered up my nightA kiss of death, the embrace of lifeOoh, there I stand neath the Marquee MoonBut I ain’t waiting, uh-uh

I rememberHow the darkness doubledI recallLightning struck itself

I was listeningListening to the rainI was hearingHearing something else


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

37 thoughts on “Television – Marquee Moon”

  1. Television’s music was playing at the Record Den at the local mall one day when I was music browsing. I liked what I heard, so I said so to a pretty girl who worked there. She introduced me to Blondie and Talking Heads and other music from the New York scene, and I wound up spending over a hundred bucks by the time I left.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You and me both Steve. At least she had good taste! I loved studying the artwork and…this is nerdy but the smell of the vinyl I’ll never forget.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not nerdy at all. I loved those record stores where you could listen to the music before buying it. And you’re right about the smell of vinyl … and even the cardboard with all the artwork. Some of it was so good I had it tacked to my bedroom walls. That didn’t happen with tapes and CDs.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I remember one store had like a telephone type booth that was sound proof and you could go in and listen…the rest you could just slip on headphones.
        Records are making somewhat of a comeback…I went into a record store with my son recently…it was a great feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The headphones were popular, but I remember the booths were hard to get into because they were always in use … usually by guys who looked like Comics Book Guy on The Simpsons. When I was a little kid, there were recording booths that you could record your own 45s on wax. That seems like a billion years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh yea….they got the comic book guy down perfectly!
        I do remember one of those booths that made records…but I was so young I didn’t know what it was.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rather like the Velvet Underground – highly influential but few people heard them. I know this song but only vaguely by ear, more by reputation! I like the guitar on it , the song itself just seems to lack… I dunno, maybe a direction? Cool guitar riff for sure though

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s more of an experimental piece…but that riff is so unorthodox. Being a guitar player I am drawn to it.
      Dave…did you cover them before? I think I tried to search your blog because I was going to link you…I was for certain….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. no, I never really wrote about them as a main article but have probably mentioned them several times in context of other NYC bands of the time like Ramones and Blondie. I appreciate your thought to give it a link though!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I must have been remembering your referrence because I searched your site and couldnt find it except every post with the word televsion lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite the mini rock opera, reminds me of some of the long jams Steppenwolf has done. I really like it. Great find, Max and so glad you shared it. The singer’s voice has shades of Mick Jagger.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cool tune! I also started listening to the album, admittedly while doing some stuff around the house, and liked what I heard. I’m going to revisit to give it the attention it deserves! In part, that’s also why I’m behind in reading. Headed out for some errands now and catching a bit of what’s left of the nice weather in my area today. Aiming to catch up by the end of the night! šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The two guitarists are quite different – Verlaine seems more like an emotion player, while Lloyd seems like this precise guy who annotates all his solos. ‘Guiding Light’ from the record is one of my favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll give that one a listen. Another band that I’ve heard of but never dived in. I love this song…I like the movements all through it. Not a simple one just to pick up and play.


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