A vivid memory of dancing solo on an Australian beach, the full moon intermittently obscured by racing clouds even as its rays glitterred off the cascading breakers pounding the beach. This song, Topaz, blasting at top volume from the small portable stereo speakers attached to my iPod. A breathless churning of limbs and heart and soul as the waves washed up and around my legs.
A second vivid memory from the California desert. Stage lights burn bright as a moon attracting a buzzing cloud of flying ants. Onstage, in the cloud, the B-52s heroicly playing every favourite song but for this one. On the grass, a sassy blonde beauty in a cowboy hat can’t decide between me and the man she arrived with. We dance. She hesitates. A tasty, lingering kiss, then she’s gone. But so is he, already, faster than the speed of love.
In a vast catalogue of B-52s oddities, this song stands out as unique. Usually characterised by whimsical, non-sensical, even ridiculous lyrics — “She came from Planet Claire” and “His earlobe fell in the deep” — Topaz reads like an issue of Common Ground, Vancouver’s monthly New Age spiritual magazine.
Faster than the speed of love
Straight through a tear in the clouds
Up to the heavens above