Understand Me :: Songs of My Youth

Shake the Disease :: Depeche Mode
from the album, The Singles (81-85)
Songs of My Youth

I’m not going down on my knees,
begging you to adore me.”


A Little History:

Shake the Disease is Depeche Mode’s 13th UK single recorded at Hansa Mischraum in Berlin (released on April 29, 1985), and was one of two new songs released on the compilation The Singles (81-85) the same year, along with It’s Called a Heart. It reached # 18 in the UK singles chart. The American version of The Singles 81-85,Catching Up with Depeche Mode, also includes Shake the Disease‘s B-side, Flexible.

Band member Alan Wilder felt this song captured the essence of the band, stating

There’s a certain edge to what we do that can make people think twice about things. If we’ve got a choice between calling a song ‘Understand Me’ or ‘Shake the Disease’, we’ll call it ‘Shake the Disease’. There’s a lot of perversity and innuendo in our lyrics, but nothing direct.

The music video (see above) is the first Depeche Mode video directed by Peter Care and features an innovative camera trick (at the time) to make it appear as though the band members are falling.


A Little Memory:

The first memory that this song always rewinds and plays for me is of a high school dance. It wasn’t one of those formal events that I actually despised, but the casual kind that you would go to with a gang of friends, the kind I loved, a love that would later lead to my affair with Hollywood clubs in post-graduation. Anyways, it is a memory of one of those dances, held in the new gym at the small, parochial high school I went to. I think it was the first year the gym had been opened.

I went along with my best friend at the time and her then boyfriend, who brought along his best friend. We were not any kind of match, but we both loved music, and we both liked to dance, and we two were stuck being the third wheel to our friends’ new-found “high school love”. It wasn’t magic, but it was something to get caught up in, and as unlikely a pair as we were, we connected in some in-between space of default reaction and romantic notion.

We danced to this song, singing-a-long to it, making each other laugh as we tried to mimic the lines, and in the space of this song we became something. We did not stick, we were never meant to, and the short month of time we tried to eek out a relationship from each other there were very few good times, but, this song was one of them.


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