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The Voice (Ultravox)

Ultravox are a British New Wave rock band. They were one of the primary exponents of the British electronic pop music movement of the early 1980s. The band was particularly associated with the New Romantic and New Wave movements.

Native these words seem to me
All speech directed to me
I've heard them once before
I know that feeling

Stranger emotions in mind
Changing the contours I find
I've seen them once before
Someone cries to me

Oh Oh Oh Oh
The look and the sound of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
They try, they try
Oh Oh Oh Oh
The shape and the power of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
In strong low tones

Forceful and twisting again
Wasting the perfect remains
I've felt it once before
Slipping over me

Oh Oh Oh Oh
The look and the sound of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
They try, they try
Oh Oh Oh Oh
The shape and the power of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
In strong low tones

Sweetly the voices decay
Draw on the lines that they say
I'd lost it once before
Now it cries to me

Oh Oh Oh Oh
The look and the sound of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
They try, they try
Oh Oh Oh Oh
The shape and the power of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
In strong low tones

Oh Oh Oh Oh
The look and the power of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
They try, they try
Oh Oh Oh Oh
The shape and the sound of the voice
Oh Oh Oh Oh
In strong low tones

Oh Oh Oh Oh
The shape and the power of the voice

NATIVE THESE WORDS SEEM TO ME= This is a hyperbaton (when the natural order of the words in a sentence is altered to make it sound more beautiful, as in poetry), so the normal order is: "These words seem native to me", which means that the words sound like they are his own words, not something coming from outside. [You will have more example of hyperbatons in the rest of the sentences]

CONTOURS= /kɒntʊə*/ The shape of a figure.

THE LOOK= The appearance.

FORCEFUL= Powerful.

SLIP= to move smoothly and easily.

DECAY= Decompose, rote, degenerate, desintegrate, disappear...

 

 

This song may have two different meanings, one more literal and another one more metaphorical. Or maybe Ultravox were playing with words and built two different meanings into one. Anyway, here are the two meanings:

AUTHORITY

This is the meaning shown in this video. The song talks about the effect a strong and harsh authority has on people. The strong words are internalized by people under authority and so they are dominated by the power of the voice.

INSPIRATION

This meaning is about an author trying to find inspiration for the lyrics of his song/poem. Inspiration may be hard sometimes. He’s looking inside of his mind for the right words, but it’s difficult to find the words. The lyrics are seen as something with its own life and its own will, but under the influence of the poet’s will, so this fight for inspiration is also a fight between the poet and the words trying to comply.
This interpretation is less obvious. Less straight-forward, but it makes everything look much more fascinating. Words are almost like living creatures twisting and bending in agony, trying to take the right shape to fit the poet’s needs and give life to the poem. Fascinating.

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