|Union of the Snake|
|single by Duran Duran|
|Released||17 October 1983|
|Format||7", 12", Cassette|
|Genre||New wave, synthpop|
|Length||4:24 (Single Version)|
6:27 (Monkey Mix)
About the song
After a song-writing session near Cannes in France, much of the band's third album was recorded at George Martin's AIR Studios on the Caribbean island of Montserrat with producer Alex Sadkin, then mixed at 301 Studios in Sydney. Mixing for "Union of the Snake" was done right up to the last minute before the tapes had to be turned over to EMI for pressing.
There was a lot of speculation among fans and critics as to what the song actually means. Some think it references a cult or military organisation. Others believe that the song is about the darker side of humanity and that the "snake" represents the evil taking control of a person. This is somewhat strengthed by the chorus: "The Union of the Snake is on the climb, moving up, it's gonna race, gonna break through the borderline". The borderline is that between good and evil and evil is beginning to take over.
Lyricist Simon Le Bon (notoriously shy about explaining his oblique lyrics) hinted, in the Duran Duran lyric book The Book of Words, that the borderline might be one between the conscious and subconscious minds. In later interviews he called it a reference to Tantric sex.
The single front cover photography is by Jeff Hornbaker. The song peak at #3 on the UK and US singles charts.
The video for "Union of the Snake" was conceived by Russell Mulcahy, who directed many of the heavy rotation videos for songs from Duran Duran's previous album Rio. However, as Mulcahy was busy preparing to direct the concert film Arena and the documentary film Sing Blue Silver during the band's world tour, the video for "Union" was actually directed by Simon Milne (who also filmed videos for Kajagoogoo and Missing Persons). It was one of the first music video to be shot on 35mm film stock rather than videotape.
There was a bit of controversy surrounding the video as it was released to MTV a full week before the single was released on radio. Radio stations were anxious at the time because they were concerned that channels like MTV might supplant them in the promotion of singles.
The distinctive music video seems to reference the movie The Road Warrior. The band is featured in the Australian desert being tracked by half-man, half-snake creature. They eventually take a lift down beneath the sands (perhaps into the subconscious) into what appears to be an underground cathedral, and the snake creature as well as number of other bizarre characters interact with vocalist Le Bon. Other band members make only brief appearances in the video.
Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, actress Jennifer Connelly was not featured in this video. However, she did appear in the band's 1984 long-form concert film Arena, during the song "The Seventh Stranger".
The use of expensive sets, costumes and makeup were the first indication of the over-the-top nature of videos to come, including a 17-minute epic video for "New Moon on Monday", the massively expensive video for "The Wild Boys", and the extravagant concept/live film Arena.
B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes
The B-side to "Union of the Snake" was the atmospheric piece "Secret Oktober". Twenty-four hours before the master tapes of the single were to be delivered to EMI for distribution, Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes wrote and mixed the B-side "Secret Oktober" in an all-night recording session.
Also included on the 12" was a remix of the single, titled "Union of the Snake (Monkey Mix)".
The single did quite well, peaking at #3 on both the UK and US singles charts and staying there for several weeks. It even made a resurgence after it dropped out the charts, coming back in the UK at #66 on the strength of The Sing Blue Silver Tour in support of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.
7": EMI / EMI 5429 (UK)
- "Union of the Snake" - 4:24
- "Secret Oktober" - 2:47
12": EMI / 12EMI 5429 (UK)
- "Union of the Snake" - 4:24
- "Secret Oktober" - 2:47
- "Union of the Snake" (Monkey Mix) - 6:27
- Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
- Arena (1984)
- Decade: Greatest Hits (1989)
- Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran (US only, 1998)
- Greatest (1998)
- Strange Behaviour (1999)
Duran Duran are:
- Simon Le Bon - vocals
- John Taylor - bass guitar, backing vocals
- Andy Taylor - guitar
- Nick Rhodes - keyboards
- Roger Taylor - drums
- Michelle Cobbs - backing vocals
- B.J. Nelson - backing vocals
- Andy Hamilton - saxophone
- Raphael Dejesus - percussion
- Mark Kennedy - percussion
Telegram force and ready I knew this was a big mistake. There's a fine line drawing my senses together, And I think it's about to break. If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh oh oh... Voices in your body coming through on the radio, ho,ho... The union of the snake is on the climb.. Moving up, it's gonna race, it's gonna break through the borderline Nightshades on a warning Give me strength at least give me a light. Give me anything even sympathy There's a chance you could be right. If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh oh oh... Voices in your body coming through on the radio, ho,ho... The union of the snake is on the climb.. Moving up, it's gonna race, it's gonna break through the borderline The union of the snake is on the climb.. Moving up, it's gonna race, it's gonna break through the borderline If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh oh oh... Voices in your body coming through on the radio, ho,ho... The union of the snake is on the climb.. Moving up it's gonna race, it's gonna break through the borderline. The union of the snake is on the climb.. It's gonna race it's gonna break - Gonna move up to the borderline.. The union of the snake is on the climb.. Moving up it's gonna race, it's gonna break through the borderline. The union of the snake is on the climb It's gonna race it's gonna break - Gonna move up to the borderline..
- MTV: Duran Duran Videos (RealPlayer format)
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