Before hearing this record, I never thought I’d ever dance to a song by Everything But the Girl. One of my favorite bands through college, they were the group I turned to for sad, pretty songs about love, lost and found, when my own inchoate emotions confused me about, well, everything. I luxuriated in their blend of jazz-inflected folk and soothingly melodic pop, appreciating more than anything Tracey Thorn’s sad-as-can-be vocal expressiveness. But then one day in late 1995, I’m in the backseat of a Town Car, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, and suddenly the radio speakers are popping with a familiar-sounding lyric, only this time mixed into the bass and thump of a crazy house beat. I soon found out that EBTG’s little song from their 9th album Amplified Heart had been re-mixed by legendary club producer/DJ Todd Terry into this scorching-hot house track. Not only had the pulse and tempo of the song gotten bigger and deffer, the lyric, and the plaintive vocal that expressed such outright sexual and romantic longing, seemed to take on even more urgency. Had there ever been a house jam with so much heartache and longing in its grooves? Of course the simplicity of Thorn’s lyric (“like the deserts miss the rain”) made “Missing” perfect for the Terry re-mix—we tend to sing along with the track when we dance, and these lyrics seemed made for sing-along status—and Terry exploited every nuance of the lyric’s hesitant, heartbroken emotion to fill in the beats with extraordinary effects. Then again, Terry had always been adept at taking the drama quotient of any of his deep house cuts as high as the crowd could take it (check out classics like “Bango (To the Batmobile)” or “A Day in the Life”). And as much as I’d enjoyed the song as the album version’s guitar ballad, it wasn’t until after hearing the re-mix of “Missing” that I started to wonder something about the object of affection Tracey Thorn sang about: who exactly was this “you” who “could be dead” and was always “two steps ahead” of every one else? What kind of number had he done on homegirl to cause her to get on that train and walk down his street, again and again and again?
Listen to it here: