99 is taken from Harper Simon’s second album, which is the breathtaking Division Street, which is an album full of the greatest songwriting that we’ve heard in a very long time, which seems to get better every time that we listen to it. We feel that nearly every song on the album could really be released as a single (we are really hoping that Eternal Questions and Division Street will be released as singles, as they are fantastic songs.) There is one obvious song that we think of when we hear the words 99 in a song, which of course belongs to Prince’s 1999, but now here is another to add to the collection! 99 must’ve been a good year and this lady must have been a bit special, because Harper is in reflective mood on the track, as he thinks back to an ex-girlfriend, who is still on his mind, from way back in 1999 (we’re hoping that he’s moved on since then, else that is one long candle-burning flame!)
The song goes to show that men can be just as emotional as women, or perhaps Harper is just an honest songwriter and able to display and expose himself and talk about his emotions in a mature way, perhaps? Or perhaps the song is fictitious, who knows? The thing that we enjoy most about story-telling songs like this, is that they are to the listener whatever we want them to be. 99 shows the strength of Harper’s clarity and descriptiveness in his songwriting, which is a real gift and something that we adore about him and his work. The arrangement sounds quite simple, in that it’s a clear and uncomplicated sound, almost stripped down to basics and it’s the lyrics that we feel the greatest connection with on this track and the song is very melodic and catchy, with a great rhythm throughout. The song is something that we can all connect with, you break up with someone, you want to call them and have a chat, but really, what is it that you want to talk to them about? It’s 2:00am in the morning, when you’ve been out with your friends and you think: ‘let me just call him for a chat’, never a good idea, which only makes for a cringe-filled morning after! Delete the number if you think this might happen! Harper sings ‘I tried to call you, but your number had changed’, this song sums it all up perfectly for us.
The wonderful thing about this song is that it reminds us of tracks that used to be released in abundance when artists made what people often refer to as ‘real music’, i.e. songwriters who cared about their craft and who wanted to write original songs that meant something to them and to the listener. 99 is a totally gorgeous indie-folk-rock record. Harper’s vocals are gentle and soft and the song is a joy to listen to. You really need do need to go and get yourselves a copy of Division Street to hear the gems that Harper has come up with, as this song is just one song of many on the album that we love and this song definitely has that easy-going summery, happy, relaxed vibe about it! Let’s hope that the sunshine continues so that we can enjoy these type of songs in the park with our mates, drinking Pimms. With the festival season a few months away, this is the type of song that we’d love to hear at a festival (hint, hint to Harper’s management!). This is just another brilliant song from Harper Simon.