Ghost tracks


FEATURE – Ghost Tracks is a new 10-part series of articles where we take a fun look back at some of the forgotten and rarely ever mentioned Roxette songs from their incredible 30 year history.

roxette-touched-by-the-hand-of-god-coverSong: Touched By the Hand of God
Album: Travelling 
Year: 2012
Track: #4

Settle a bet here. Was this officially released as a single or not? What the hell happened? Anyway, if you know the answer, comment below.

I know what you’re thinking. WAY too young to be considered a Ghost Track, right? But scratch the surface and there’s a bit of mystery around this song. As mentioned earlier, this was sort of a single but not properly released? Certainly no video made. Was it a digital release? There is a sleeve.

This track started life as a song called “Charm School” intended for Roxette’s 2011 release. Apparently several attempts were made to rescue this song during the 2010 sessions but the song mysteriously failed to make the album and became a modern day “Pearls of Passion” so to speak.

It always fascinates me how a song can be planned as a centerpiece for a new album and then in the end, never make the LP. Didn’t this also happen in the ’90s when Per was banking on “Crazy About You” as a lead song for the Crash! Boom! Bang! album? Regardless, how “Touched By the Hand of God,” in whatever guise, never made the Charm School album andAfter All” did is beyond me. But let’s keep this above the belt!

A lot of fans were desperately hoping to hear some of the original Charm School sessions of “Touched By the Hand of God” but alas, we got the T&A acoustic demo (again) on The Per Gessle Archives instead.

This track has definitely got some balls and according to the 2012 Travelling EPK, Marie loves it too! A modern “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” perhaps?

Aside from the bleeding obvious fact that this is a really good pop/rock song – what I like about it are the little touches that have always made Roxette songs far, far superior to their pop contemporaries. Firstly, the rib crunching guitar riffs are back! Finally! Where you been lately? Also. One of my favorite elements to this song is when Per sings “…just like the funk in Art Garfunkel” and then Marie backs it up with “…as far as I could tell…” – I love that overlap! We Roxers love when Marie and Per trade vocals. Per doesn’t get to complete his “Art Garfunkel” line before Marie leaps over him with her backing vocals. It reminds me of my favorite element in “She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)” when Per sings in the first verse “…what she got, she got to let somebody find it” and then Marie pops up “Really?” – “Oh” – “Yeah?” Fantastic! Elements people! Devices! Per is incredible at inserting elements into a song. He doesn’t just rest on a good chorus and then pack up and leave the studio, job done! No! He’ll add whistling to “Joyride”. He’ll ask Marie “whatcha gonna tell your brother?”. He’ll reinforce a melody with a bunch of “na na na nas”. It seems for Per, a pop song ain’t a pop song until he uses all the devices he can think of to penetrate your brain. That’s how it should be! Anyway, there are far better examples of his usage of creative devices in songs than those featured in “Touched By The Hand Of God”, but this is just a recent example!

Moving on, according to online feedback, most fans were hoping this one would get played live as part of the 2015 XXX Tour. Not a lot of new lines for our beloved Marie to remember and it’s a raw guitar driven track with minimal computer stuff, an ideal fit for the band’s current “power pop” phase. Fingers crossed this pops up somewhere down the road.

Here’s what Per Gessle had to say about “Touched By The Hand of God” in his book Songs, Sketches and Reflections

“…This was the title track of Roxette’s Charm School album but it never made the record. I wrote it in September 2009 and it felt really good, but the Roxette version didn’t come out right. So we partly re-recorded it for the Travelling album with a different production angle. I gave it a new title and it became a single. I’ve said it before and I say it again: songs move in mysterious ways…”

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

“…She said she had a ’57 Chevrolet, there’s nothing more to say, she took my breath away!”

  ★ The author:

  ★ Publishing date:

January 7th, 2015

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  • Kathie Winn

    I love love love love this song. Never get sick of hearing it. I like it so much that I asked my daughter to put one of her animations to it, which she did.
    Would dearly love to hear it live. Ok I think I’ve said I LOVE IT enough times now 🙂

    • I have to agree, can’t get enough of this one. And there IS a CDR promo of it… The mystery thickens.

    • RobS

      Same here. Great song… I think the first time I heard a snippet from the chorus I knew it would be a fave. Although I have to agree with Sascha, there does seem to be a little too much Helena in the background, probably should’ve turned that knob down a notch or two.

  • James Crompton

    Funny not one of my faves and I love After All. That is one of my faves on Charm School. lol. Each to their own I guess. Prefer Lover Lover Lover to this one and You, Me, Terry and Julie. Maybe I’m just weird lol

    • Kathie Winn

      No you’re not weird James, it’s all a matter of personal taste, it’s a good thing we all like different songs. I also adore Lover Lover Lover,… and After All is is pretty good too. 🙂

      • Martín Calcaterra

        Can’t stop listening to it! I prefer it to ‘It’s possible’. If they have to choose one song to play it live on the next tour, it has to be this one!

    • URCogProf

      Not weird at all – “Me & You & Terry & Julie” is my absolute favourite song by a mile on this album, although “Touched” and “Lover Lover Lover” are fantastic as well. I agree that “It’s Possible” is the weakest lead single of any album (but Rox songs only get so bad…).

      • James Crompton

        Yeah not a big fan of Its Possible lol. See Me is a nice track for me but maybe not a single. Lover Lover Lover is the standout as a single imho.

  • Sascha

    This doesn’t do anything for me. The speed/power seems hollow, doesn’t come naturally. And Helena’s voice is far too prominent for backing. Big disappointment beside Roxette’s weakest lead single ever: It’s Possible. The album has great songs though.

    • Chris

      I can totally agree!

      But I have to say that I miss some power in most of the songs on the last records. The drums should be stronger. It sounds so flat especially on CS.

    • Alejandro

      What do we want? Clarence back in power! 😛

  • Daniela

    I guess there were no more single releases of Travelling as Roxette and their record company were probably disappointed about the album’s and the first single’s chart positions. For example, in Germany, Charm School peaked at no. 1, but Travelling only reached no. 7. However, this doesn’t automatically need to be a proof that people wouldn’t have bought another single of this album, I think that Excuse me Sir, do you want me to check on your wife, Turn of the Tide and Lover Lover Lover had some potential, especially if the songs would have been released together with a previously unreleased song so that the fans who already owned the album would have also bought the singles to get this new song.

    • Thomas Lawrie-Clark

      Not sure about Turn Of The Tide being a single. My choices for Travelling singles would have been…
      It’s Possible / Lover Lover Lover / Touched By The Hand Of God

  • Coolbluez

    Love this one…I listened to this track the whole night and couldn’t sleep coz I was toooo stimulated by this song. This reminds me of Keep me waiting…Fantastic song.

  • Fabio Deluca

    I think it was a chance (one more) all wasted. TBTHOG had potential and it should have been the lead single of Travelling. As an appetizer, this song gives you a more accurate picture of the sound of the whole album than It’s Possible. And what’s this trend of releasing “virtual singles”? I really liked the cover but then I found the single never existed besides an obscure CD-R promo. Even Way Out got a physical release, why not this one?

    • David Jakubowski

      Physical singles are sadly a relic of the past. They used to be the way to drive sales of an album. All the various digital services do that now (if at all—many people don’t buy albums anymore either).

      We should probably only expect physical singles in the future to be like the “Speak To Me” 7-inch, “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye” 10-inch and only the occasional 2-track CD single like “It’s Possible”. These items are rare, highly collectible, printed in limited runs, and aimed only at hardcore fans/collectors.

  • Thomas Lawrie-Clark

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. One of the best from Travelling. Love the single cover too. I really wish we’d have had more photos from the Travelling sessions released.
    Anyway, the song. I can kinda see why it was left off Charm School from the demo, and think it was the correct decision as on Travelling it’s a brilliant track! Unexpected and it sounds like classic Rosette with an edge. Should have been a single!

  • Skyrider

    Would have been a better lead single than It’s possible.
    Have heard it one or two times on the radio in 2012. Sounded great on the radio!
    Nowadays I think maybe there’s missing a bit of power in the song.

    Lover Lover Lover is the same kind of mystery to me. If you listen to Lover Lover Lover – this is a real hit song!

    • Jason

      “Lover Lover Lover” is the hit single on the album, in my opinion, and should have been the first single. As for “Touched By The Hand Of God”, I would have picked it as the third single. I still think that “The Sweet Hello The Sad Goodbye [Bassflow Remake]” should have been on “Travelling”, provided that it had been recorded prior to the album release. I would have released the following:

      “Lover Lover Lover”
      “Turn Of The Tide”
      “Touched By The Hand Of God”
      “The Sweet Hello The Sad Goodbye [Bassflow Remake]”

  • Mauricio Pladellorens

    I have been reading all the songs and I can add “Myth” to the ghost tracks! I love that song

  • David Jakubowski

    Not much of a “ghost track” for me. I think this song got plenty of attention when Travelling was released and in the fan polls regarding what to play live. Definitely a “ghost single” though. 😉 Regardless, great song that deserves any attention it gets.

  • roxulikeababy

    This song has become one of my favorite Rox songs. In fact I love Travelling as a whole. I felt like they dipped their toe in the studio water with Charm School but dove in headfirst with Travelling. But of course, neither of them got the least acknowledgement from US radio (what a surprise), so the ghost track thing is a moot point here.

  • Krischan76

    Well, this is one of my all-time favourites. What a great song, what a drum pattern, so much Roxette – it kicks butt! Hell yeah! This song is responsible for one or the other speeding ticket of mine.

  • Stevo Petkovic

    I think Sascha has nailed it here regarding the backing vocals. I was shocked when I first heard it and realised just HOW prominent Helena’s voice was in the sing compared to Marie’s!

    • RobS

      For a good amount of time I was thinking is it Marie? Doesn’t sound like Marie, but must be Marie? Then it clicked that it wasn’t.

  • Jhonatan Fernandes R

    i don’t think this song belongs to ghost tracks. not my fave but for sure one of the best of travelling. it’s way stronger than it’s possible which i think is a weak song. From Travelling i do prefer Easy Way Out it has this cool breazy vibe it just keep growing in me, i just can’t get out of my head this song… Perfect excuse is another great song but i do prefer party crasher’s version…

    • Bonta-kun

      Nah, I think we can get away with calling Touched a ghost track.

      It did get reincarnated, after all.

  • My favourite track of the Travelling album, followed closely by Easy Way Out. I think both songs are better than It’s Possible.

  • Thomas Lawrie-Clark

    Where’s No.7 Ghost Track. Been looking forward to reading the next installment all morning 🙂

  • Bonta-kun

    Best song on Travelling. By a mile. It would have been a much closer call had it been on Charm School.

    And lay off After All, there’s nowt wrong with it.

  • Robert Quinteros

    It’s a shame. A pity this song is considered to be a ghost track. It should have been a single and should be played live. It’s their latest best power pop track.!!

  • Antonio Epifania

    Easily a standout on the Travelling album. Probably of the last two Roxette albums! What a chorus! The verses slightly irritate me but I can live with them. I would love to have heard what Jonas would have done with them… But that’s only a dream. This should have been the first single. It’s Possible was a decent song but nothing special, this one is. Except Helena at the end?! What on earth is with that?? MARIE is Roxette!! Not Helena! She should have been the prominent voice at the end not Helena! Same with Angel Passing, wrong imo. Just wrong. And why the hell don’t they play this live? Per stop being so stubborn and give the fans a treat 😉 Marie doesn’t have many lines to remember, it suits the current band sound and has a great energy and feel. Also how good would it sound with Chris, Dea, Magnus and Per together on the backing lines of the chorus “How on earth could it be…” before Marie belts “I’m touched by the hand of God!!” What a WASTED live opportunity 🙁 I think it would have been nice as an opener actually. Oh well it’s clear Per won’t budge, instead we get 727 again zzzzzzzzzz…..

  • marox79

    Best track out of ‘Travelling’. Hands down. I confess I haven’t given others that much of a listen since this and It’s Possible are the only ones I added to my mp3 playlist.

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