John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Solo albums

Music For A New Society

Music For A New Society

About this album

Released in 1982. ZE ILPS 7019.


  1. Taking Your Life In Your Hands
  2. Thoughtless Kind
  3. Sanities
  4. If You Were Still Around
  5. (I Keep) A Close Watch / Mama's Song
  6. Broken Bird
  7. Chinese Envoy
  8. Changes Made
  9. Damn Life
  10. Risé, Sam And Rimsky-Korsakov
  11. In The Library of Force (CD reissue bonus track)
"On Music For A New Society, I wanted to do a Marble Index - put the songs down, then write independent arrangements around them, itīs an arranger's record, it even goes outside the realm of that, it's like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The whole thing is hooked on the voice, which I was really proud of; the voice is sticking out there, it's not hidden. There were some examples where songs ended up so emaciated the weren't songs anymore. There was a purist notion of what it was supposed to be, but it flowered into something entirely different, with a lot of overdubbings. The only track with a band on the whole album is Changes Made and that shouldn't be there, but the record company insisted on it."

Includes a new version of Close Watch, from the Helen Of Troy album.
In The Library of Force is included on the expanded 1993 CD re-issue.

Sanctus > Santies > Sanities + misquotes
The engineer misread Cale's handwritten title and thus the tracks was named Santies on the LP track listing. The CD reissue calls it Sanities.

Watchmen #12, 1987

A part of the final lines of the song - "All so that it would be a stronger world / A strong though loving world / To die in" were misquoted by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their Watchmen comic, on a full page and the final panel of the comic's twelfth issue (October 1987). Fictional anti-villain Adrian Veidt got it wrong again - "I envision a stronger, loving world" - in the fifth episode of the Watchmen television series in 2019.

What happened to Mama's Song?
The original LP contained Mama's Song, an 0:58 instrumental, as the sixth track of side one. This is not missing from the CD reissue, but included in Close Watch, which now runs for 3:09 (2:11 on the LP).

The original Mama's Song however, featured a telephone call between John Cale and his mother. She had sung the Welsh traditional Ar Lan y Môr (On The Sea Shore). When she was taken ill, Cale decided not to include it on the album.

Music For A New Society + M:FANS 2016 reissue
The album is re-released in expanded format in 2016. See Music For A New Society + M:FANS for all the details.

All songs written by John Cale, except If You Were Still Around and Risé, Sam And Rimsky-Korsakov by John Cale and Sam Shepard, and Damn Life by John Cale and Risé Cale.

John Cale: vocals, guitars, keyboards
Alan Lanier: guitar
D.J. Young: guitar
David Lichtenstein: drums
John Wonderling: autoharp
Mike McLintock: backing vocals
Pipe Major: bagpipes
Tom Fitzgibbon: bagpipes
Robert Elk: bagpipes
Risé Cale: vocal on Risé, Sam And Rimsky-Korsakov

Other credits:
Recorded and mixed at Sky Line Studios, NYC, USA
Producer: John Cale
Engineer: David Lichtenstein
Assistant engineer: David Young
Cover photo: Betsey Johnson
Design: Rob O'Connor

Close Watch

Close Watch singles

Two singles were released to promote the album.

Close Watch / Close Watch
7 inch 45rpm single. 1982/1983
Contains the Helen 0f Troy and Music For A New Society version
SE/Island 104.876, Germany (1982)
Ze IS 113, UK (1983)

Close Watch / Changes Made
7 inch 45rpm single. Germany 1982.

© 1999- Hans Werksman