The other day Killer Opening Songs was walking around Holborn, central London, looking for a pair of long Lycra trousers to wear whilst cycling (it's getting a bit nippy in the morning these days, although it does warm up in the afternoon) when it saw a song stumbling out of a pub (or cafe, it could not tell). It was an old melody, but my God, had it not scrubbed up well despite the years! On recognising it K.O.S. put its arm around its neck and invited it to accompany it to the bike shop.
There are songs that tumble into our lives serendipitously; they arrive unbidden and unsolicited. We might have the aptitude to make them appear as if by magic every now and then through our constant exposure to music, but the fortuitous encounter never fails to surprise the listener. And when they do arrive, we take a long walk with them, just as we would do with an old friend.
'Safe from Harm' is one of those melodies. The Killer Opening Song from Massive Attack's debut album, 'Blue Lines' (1991), this is a track that combines understated beats with very deftly musical arrangements to convey the despair and loneliness of a generation bearing the brunt of the Thatcher years. Words like 'Midnight ronkers/City slickers/Gunmen and maniacs/All will feature on the freakshow/And I can't do nothing 'bout that, no/But if you hurt what's mine/I'll sure as hell retaliate' express the dog-eat-dog society Britain had become by then. Shara Nelson's melancholy voice renders the song a soulful plea for understanding (You can free the world you can free my mind/Just as long as my baby's safe from harm tonight) whilst 3D's rapping brings a powerful dose of reality and paranoia to the track (I was lookin' back to see if you were lookin' back at me/To see me lookin' back at you).
Although other artists like Tricky and Portishead established Bristol as a hotbed of creativity, it was Massive Attack with 'Blue Lines' that provided the blueprint for what later became know as trip-hop' and 'Safe from Harm' was the Killer Opening Song that started it all. Enjoy.