Acts of Man

Album: The Courage Of Others (2010)


  • This is the opening track from American rock band Midlake's third album, The Courage Of Others. The tenderly apocalyptic number opens with a solo folk guitar intro and introduces the album's theme of wanting to escape modern trappings.
  • Lead singer Tim Smith told Mojo magazine February 2010 that it was his discovery of British folk rock icons such as Steeleye Span, Pentangle and Fairport Convention, that convinced Midlake to adopt a new style. Said Smith: "It took us a lot of time to learn how to play more in that style. It wasn't a technical thing as much as a mental thing, of getting that kind of a vibe out of a guitar- a lot of changes. this album is a lot more guitar-orientated- we were doing away with all the keyboards. We had to learn to play together as a band better. We threw away a lot of material that wasn't working, and we just recorded and recorded and found out what worked and what didn't. You can imagine it was very frustrating, going home every day and not having anything for the album after nine months of work. Then, exactly a year from the time we started that, we got 'Acts Of Man,' the first song on the album. Once we had that it was kind of opened up to us."
  • Smith explained to The Guardian January 28, 2010 his new found fascination with 1960s British folk rock: "With me not coming from a well-rounded background in rock music or anything, all of this was new to me," he said. "I'd never heard Crosby, Stills & Nash before, or Elton John or Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. So with Van Occupanther I just thought wow, I really like this 70s sound, there's something magical about the stuff, and I really connected with it, so we had to go in that direction. I didn't want to change the sound or ­anything, the sound is fine. I don't mind if we don't change or evolve. But it's kind of …an accident. I was buying cheap vinyl, just based on the covers really, but then you listen to them and you start finding out about all the other bands. You just start to fall in love with a kind of music that I'd never really heard before. And I just had to show the band, you know, this will be the new sound, this is the kind of direction I'd like to get a bit more of in our sound."
  • When asked by MusicOMH if the song is about man's destruction of nature, Smith replied: "I never meant for it to be that way and I really wouldn't be one to come across as an activist for the environment, I'm not really. It's all fine, it's not really me, I do my part by recycling. With 'Acts Of Man' it was never meant to be man versus nature, it was meant to be more of man versus man... I was just thinking of the atrocities that man can pull on another man. That was more what I was thinking, rather than sticking up for the environment."

    "I think it has more to do with my like of older things and poetry, or classic works of art or classical music, or old architecture or old furniture," he explains of his penchant for nature imagery throughout the album. "I always like something older. I think when I'm reading William Blake or Goethe, who I quoted in the album, it's always nature in every line, they always talk about the seasons and the months and the flowers, and that stuff's always in there. I don't know what else to write about." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France


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