Jun 2024 25

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Whatever title you know it as, there really is no better designation than “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet.” Apparently recorded at some point in the early-to-mid ’80s, the song’s origins have been shrouded in mystery… a mystery that Linda R. Bess unravels here. Musician, vocalist, writer, poet, performance artist – to call Bess a formidable talent would be a dramatic understatement. She has produced improvisational dance scores, video projects, served in the industrial/witch house outfit White Cauldron, collaborated with the likes of Toothpinch and Thyacine, and now operates under the solo moniker of Bess (of Whitecauldron). Among her more recent endeavors is her work with Randall Yeager of Dead End Friends. ReGen is happy to present this account from Bess on her creative partnership with Yeager, primarily touching on the pair’s rendition of “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet.”

 

When I was approached by Randall Yeager of Dead End Friends to record vocals for his version of one of lostwave’s most famous tracks, known to cult followers as “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet” (most commonly entitled “Like the Wind”), I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised that he invited me to be the vocalist (we had already been collaborating off and on for about five years); I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this track and the controversy surrounding its origins. Randall sent me a couple of versions to check out, highlighting one on YouTube produced by Witto featuring a vocalist named Nicole. He gave me a bit of the backstory and left things open for me so that I could process what I was going to do with the vocals. I like Witto’s version – an airy and light female vocal over dreamy synths making smooth the lyrics that could suggest a dark reality. Immediately, like many listeners, I was convinced that I’d heard this ’80s synthwave song before. I was transported back to that decade when music became a raison d’etre – whether to listen and escape growing pains or to use as a springboard to create movement, visual art, writings, then eventually, songs.

 

I listened on YouTube to a few versions of the original (all remasters), then looked up the lyrics and got to work on recording mine. I decided to lay down a few vocal tracks in both first and second soprano, and in my most comfortable alto range. After our version, entitled “Enigma,” was released on Bandcamp, my curiosity about the song persisted. I investigated this mysterious track a bit more to discover that a couple of other versions had been released right around the time that we released ours. One that I found on Spotify by The Most Mysterious Band is a misrepresentation of the rightful owner of this track (which is no one) – The Most Mysterious Band did not compose the music nor write the lyrics. It’s obvious that that version is a dub and a poorly produced master of the original song. Yet, The Most Mysterious Band has nearly 27,000 followers… why? I guess fans of the song don’t care in what format or quality they consume the song; they just want to hear it. Extize released his version of “Like the Wind” about a month after we released ours. His version uses an early ’90s stomp beat with harsh synths to support awkward vocals, tinny rim shots, and overplayed loops. Toward the end of the song, the vocals change to a contrived timbre, and likely, an abrupt switch of plug-ins, chopping each measure all the way to the end. Seeing his campy videos on Instagram in combo with hearing his version of the song works in a mocking (humorous?) way… if that’s what he was going for.

 

In 2019, Rolling Stone featured an article about this mystery. Rather than paraphrasing them, I’ll just say that after having read several articles, listening to several podcasts, and watching a number of YouTube videos (some of which weren’t the best of sources), the gist is this: No one knows who wrote it. No one knows who recorded it. No one knows who initially played it on NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg), but most agree that its creation happened near Hamburg sometime between 1982 and 1984. As we all know, The Berlin Wall came down in 1990, which is a significant piece of information – if the song’s composer was indeed influenced by the Ministerium für Staatsicherheit (the EGR – East German Republic). I remember that moment in time. I was working at National Record Mart. An entirely new world of music was opened up to me, and my great exploration of all music simply called “alternative” began. My brother and I jammed a lot, me on bass, him on guitar. And Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters re-ignited The Wall. If, indeed, the artist of “Like the Wind” was running toward freedom, I find that very interesting from a lyrical standpoint.

 

 

Upon searching, you will find many versions of the song’s lyrics and the working title. Whether you refer to the song as “Like the Wind,” “Check it In,” “Blind the Wind,” or simply, “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet,” Randall chose to call our version “Enigma,” and I chose to use these lyrics. The first verse is:
 

    Like the Wind / You came here running / Take the consequence of living
    There’s no space / There’s no tomorrow / There’s no sense communication

 
If the writer is portraying an actual person who escaped from East Berlin and made it to West Berlin during the ’80s, those lyrics make sense to me in an entirely different way. What would those consequences (of escaping that regime from the Cold War) be? You would be abandoning your entire existence – friends, loved ones – to trust that your new one would be better. And what of “no sense communication?” You would likely never see nor talk with those friends or loved ones again if you escaped by yourself. This, of course, happened to so many, and is still happening all over the world in (Name Your War or Conflict) as a result of being forcefully displaced or having to escape in order to survive. One version of the chorus is:
 

    Check it in / Check it out / Or the sun will never shine
    You’re a long way / from the subways of your mind

 
… and continues in the outro, for which I took some liberty by altering a few phrases:
 

    Check it in / Check it out
    I can’t explain
    Tear it in / Tear it out
    It’s leaving you

 
Metaphorically, or even literally, the lyrics grow more powerful. If you had to constantly check everything under those circumstances because your survival depended upon it, you’d better believe that you might get killed, never see the sun shine again, if caught by the Stasi (whose surveillance, if you’re not familiar, was akin to Orwell’s portrayal of Big Brother in 1984). And the line “You’re a long way from the subways of your mind” could serve metaphorically as one’s memories, as everything you’ve ever known.

 

 

One amazing thing about music is that you can address a serious matter, even an historical one, with lyrics, the portrayal of the voice(s) used to communicate those lyrics, and of course, all the instrumentation, the arrangement, and the FX (or not) used to convey something important to a listener. We can take hours, weeks, or years to create and produce our music. Obviously, this creation of lostwave, darkwave, synthwave, coldwave, alternative, industrial, dark ambient, experimental pop, or whatever sub-subgenre our songs fit in is rarely a journey that leads to big money, notoriety, or fame, but (speaking for myself), I go into that risk willingly.

 

Did the writer of “The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet” risk something that we can only imagine? Like, freedom? Did the writer, artist, band – whoever you are, if you’re still alive – know that in 2024, artists would continue to record and distribute their versions of the song? I don’t know. No one has brought irrefutable evidence to us, to solve this mystery. But what I do know is that no matter the version you listen to or decide to like the most, the history behind this mystery is still being made.

 

Article by Linda R. Bess/Bess (of Whitecauldron)
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Dead End Friends
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