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Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack

Album: Blue LinesReleased: 1991Charted:
  • Massive Attack at the time was a three-man production team: Robert "3D" Del Naja, Grantley "Daddy G" Marshall and Andrew "Mushroom" Vowles. They used various vocalists on their compositions. Shara Nelson, who also sang on their song "Safe From Harm," appears on this track. They lyric finds Nelson longing for her companion, but wary because she has been hurt before.
  • This is a very innovative song in the electronic dance (sometimes called trip-hop) genre. It features a string section and various orchestral elements (the title is probably a play on the term "Unfinished Symphony"), as well as samples and layers of vocals.
  • The rhythm track is based on the bells found in the 1975 song "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" by Bob James, a jazz composer known for combining elements of dance, funk and pop. Another song that sampled this track is Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper."
  • The male vocal is a sample of John McLaughlin from his 1975 song "Planetary Citizen." McLaughlin is a fusion guitarist who led the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
  • The video was directed by Baillie Walsh, whose credits include the documentary Springsteen & I, and a few other Massive Attack videos, including "Safe From Harm" and "Be Thankful For What You’ve Got."

    The video is one continuous shot filmed on West Pico Boulevard between South New Hampshire Avenue and Dewey Avenue in Los Angeles, California. It features Shara Nelson walking along the sidewalk, indifferent to her surroundings, which include drunks, gangs, and bikers. The Verve made a similar video for their song "Bittersweet Symphony."
  • This single was released shortly after the first Gulf War started, and due to increased sensitivities, the band changed their name to "Massive" for a time, which is how they are listed on the single.
  • Tina Turner recorded this for her 1996 album Wildest Dreams.
  • This was featured in the 1993 movie Sliver during a sex scene between Sharon Stone and William Baldwin.
  • This song is featured in many of the British "Best Song" polls. For instance the TV Channel MTV2 in the UK placed it #1 in a poll of the best songs ever and in 2002 the New Musical Express ranked it #10 in their list of The Top 100 Singles of All Time. In addition both Face Magazine and Melody Maker selected this as their Single of the Year.
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Comments: 4

I think that she is telling us to wake up. it is a call, our way of life is totally wrong, we lived like zombies and i think she is in the quest of The Truth. That is why we can hear: "Are you ready?"i would like to understand what are the words at the very end by a man...Eduardo Argueta - El Salvador
i think it is about about ordinary lover who is about to end his/her (sad) unreciprocated love for someone who takes him/her for grantedStafler - Durban, South Africa
One of the greatest songs of all time. I can't believe no one's really commented on it.Daniel - Sydney, Australia
"you're the one thing I kept open and now I've got nothing more" like that teenager that loses his or her big love in the end. Life goes on but you will never forget that heart wrenching tear. It stays with you forever. Like this song.Pe - Hamburg, Germany
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