There are two types of weather that I think of as “Brian Eno weather”. The first is simply grey. Grey weather, a little wet but not exactly raining. The light outside is soft and diffuse and the grey is merely a gauzy curtain that makes the liquid colors more delicate and subtle. The second isn’t exactly “weather” maybe – but a specific kind of sunrise and its specific interaction with a specific sort of landscape – and it’s something I’ve only encountered once.

I was driving home one morning along the freeway after a night out dancing, and as it was so very ridiculously early, the sun was just beginning to rise.
As the sun slid up I sped down the road through large stretches of post-industrial wasteland – fields of grey weeds and electrical towers, those giant castles of scaffolding that are simultaneously dainty and terrifying in their spindly current-channeling power.

I looked up from the road and I was surrounded by horizon in every direction, wide and curved and far away and the sun was a small red ball rising over the electrical towers and that small red sun spelled “eno” in my brain as sure as any signifier has ever signified any other concept.

One of the songs that reminds me of that day is “St. Elmo’s Fire”. It’s from the album “Another Green World”, which came out in 1975.

Here are the lyrics as they were posted on “EnoWeb” ( with some references (also from EnoWeb) that make me feel even more that that morning was perfectly suited to this song.

Brown Eyes and I were tired
We had walked and we had scrambled
Through the moors and through the briars
Through the endless blue meanders
In the blue August moon
In the cool August moon

Over the nights and through the fires
We went surging down the wires
Through the towns and on the highways
Through the storms in all their thundering
In the blue August moon
In the cool August moon

Then we rested in a desert
Where the bones were white as teeth, sir
And we saw St. Elmo's Fire
Splitting ions in the ether
In the blue August moon
In the cool August moon


In the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, there is an electrical generator which is activated for the benefit of observers at 14h00 each day. According to Russell Mills, Eno based Robert Fripp's guitar solo on the action of this generator. -- Craig Clark (quoting More Dark Than Shark)

"...on 'St. Elmo's Fire' I had this idea and said to Fripp, 'Do you know what a Wimshurst machine is?' It's a device for generating very high voltages which then leap between the two poles, and it has a certain erratic contour, and I said, 'You have to imagine a guitar line that has that, very fast and unpredictable.' And he played that part which to me was very Wimshurst indeed." (-- Brian Eno, interviewed by Lester Bangs for Musician in 1979)

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