Are 'Friends' Electric?

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"Are 'Friends' Electric?"
Are 'Friends' Electric? cover
B-side by Weezer
Released June 3, 2008
Recorded October 29, 2005 in Fresno, CA
Length 5:25
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Gary Numan
Producer N/A
Status Officially released

"Are 'Friends' Electric?" is a b-side to "Pork and Beans".

Appearances

  • "Pork and Beans" (UK retail CD)
  • "Pork and Beans" (US indie retail 7" (red vinyl))
  • "Pork and Beans" (UK iTunes E.P. / UK amazon E.P.)
  • "Pork and Beans" (German iTunes E.P.)
  • "Troublemaker" (Japanese iTunes E.P.)

Overview

"Are 'Friends' Electric?" is a song by Tubeway Army, an early project of Gary Numan's. Weezer's version on the "Pork and Beans" single is a live recording, from the Make Believe Tour show on October 29, 2005 in Fresno, CA.

The original Tubeway Army version is from a 1979 album called Replicas. The titles of both this song and the album are influenced by the Phillip K. Dick science fiction story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was also the basis of the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner.

The song tells the tale of a lonely and paranoid man; its themes of alienation and isolation were a Numan hallmark at this time in his career. The lyrics were inspired by a failed relationship with Beggars Banquet employee Susan Wathan (cryptically referred to as "S.U."). Despite being over five minutes long and possessing, in the words of its composer, "no recognisable hook-line whatsoever", the single topped the UK charts and is notable for being the first electronic/synthesizer-based record to become a hit in the post-punk era.

"Are 'Friends' Electric?" features three different sections: a recurring 'verse' with synth riff in C and B flat, a recurring section with spoken word over slow arpeggiated seventh chords, and an instrumental break in F. The instrumentation is quite minimalistic: there is a conventional drum and bass guitar backing track, some additional heavily flanged guitar (particularly in the instrumental break), subdued vocals and, most prominently, Minimoog synthesizer. These synth parts include a slow-paced sawtooth bass riff, and some soaring portamento background lines.

Personnel

Lyrics

Lyrics written by Pat Wilson on a snare drum with a Sharpie.

It's cold outside
And the paint's peeling off of my walls
There's a man outside
In a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette

Now the light fades out
And I wonder what I'm doing in a room like this
There's a knock on the door
And just for a second I thought I remembered you

So now I'm alone
Now I can think for myself
About little deals and issues
And things that I just don't understand
A white lie that night
Or a sly touch at times
I don't think it mean anything to you

So I open the door
It's the friend that I'd left in the hallway
'Please sit down'
A candlelit shadow on a wall near the bed

You know I hate to ask
But are 'friends' electric?
Only mine's broke down
And now I've no-one to love

So I found out your reasons
For the phone calls and smiles
And it hurts and I'm lonely
And I should never have tried
And I missed you tonight
So it's time to leave
You see it meant everything to me

See also