Ultravox

The Man Who Dies Every Day

Composed by Warren Reginald Cann / Chris Cross / William Currie / John Foxx / Steve Shears / Ultravox

Song Review by

"Man Who Dies Every Day" is the sound of a band on the cusp of a musical transformation, capturing a group in the midst of forging a new compatibility as they search for a way to fuse traditional rock to rapidly expanding musical technology. Drummer Warren Cann has remarked, "Bill's Billy Currie synth was being incorporated into the sound more and more, this is one of the songs that really pointed to where we wanted to go (and we knew it). The bass line is interesting in that it could so obviously be a synth bass line, it has all the hallmarks of one, yet it was still being played on bass guitar."

The song centers on the mechanical pulse of bass drum from Cann's newly acquired Roland TR-77 drum machine and the aforementioned human-powered bass line plunking out a steady two-note rhythm. Over this, guitarist Stevie Shears lays a hacking thin chop of electric guitar, while Billie Currie provides atmosphere with a sci-fi synthesizer riff. Singer John Foxx speaks/sings the opening verse in clipped phrases: "Someone stood beside me for a moment in the rain/A silhouette, a cigarette, and a gesture of disdain/I saw a dark door open/Saw a sudden ghost go through/A spark left from my fingertip and I knew it must be you." An electronic snare drum is added to punch up the chorus as Foxx harmonizes on the short chorus line, "Ain't you the man who dies every day?/You're the man who dies every day/You're the man." Currie contributes a heavily effected violin solo, atonal notes rising up before descending into electronic squabbles. The song is again stripped down to the more minimalist sound of the opening, then returning for repeated choruses, before building into a vamp-out finish of slashing single guitar chord, synth notes buzzing behind while tomtom drums add short accents to the fadeout.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Ha! Ha! Ha! 1977 Island / Universal 4:11