I’m In Love, What’s That Song? Or, Teenage Wristband by The Twilight Singers

There are three ways to this girl’s heart

1. A really good sandwich. I’m not kidding. I love sandwiches. So much so that Biffle and I use the word as a declaration of endearment. In our lexicon, ‘sandwich’ means “I care for you greatly. So much so that if I had a delicious sandwich, I would give you half.”

A couple of days ago, he called me while I was eating dinner:

Biffle: Hello?
Me: I’m eating a sandwich.
Biffle: I understand.

What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

2. Be one of these guys.

3. The mix CD.

Rob Sheffield, genius that he is, wrote this amazing book called Love Is A Mixtape : Life and Loss One Song At A Time in which he chronicles his love of music and his relationship with his first wife who passed away of a pulmonary embolism.

In the book, he makes two comments about mix tapes that really stuck with me:

1) There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one  – The Party Tape, We’re Doing It? Awesome!, I Hate This Fucking Job, The Road Trip…
2) “This tape doesn’t really flow. It’s just a bunch of burnt offerings to this goddess girl.”

I’ve made plenty of occasion mixes — Genco Pura (a mix for cooking Italian food in your kitchen and singing into a “microphone” dripping with pomodoro sauce), Vox Populi (Songs you want to shout/sing at a bar when you’re hammered), Sad Bastard Music (a mix for moping around in your sweats) — and I’ve made a couple of mixes for the latter category.

I don’t really know how to say, “Hey, you know the drums in My Hero when Taylor Hawkins basically goes batshit, Animal-style and pounds on the skins like he’s performing an exorcism? Being around you makes me feel like that…I’m not insane. I promise.”

So instead, I make mixes – burnt offerings that let the music do the talking for me.

When Augs and I first started dating, he made me this amazing mix CD. Nestled in between Citizen Cope, The Faces and The Stones was a track by a band I had never even heard of — Teenage Wristband by The Twilight Singers.

The first time I heard it, the crystalline tinkle of piano keys cut through the stagnant summer air and for a second, I forgot how to breathe.

What is this?

This, it turns out, is Greg Dulli at his finest. Scattershot with starlight and soaked in well-aged bourbon, the music of The Twilight Singers is a dark fairytale woven through well-worn, nickel-plated strings. All black velvet soft darkness rattled by a wall of noise – whispers turn to howls, murky basslines bubble out of steaming Southern swamps and snarling guitars hiss and strike like baited cobras.

Teenage Wristband opens with clean, crisp pianos, a low persistent drone and Dulli issuing a low and throaty challenge:

You say you wanna go there
Ride then
I did and I loved it

I grew up in the suburbs and even I know that Dulli is talking about drugs. Considering his car crash life, these stark allusions shouldn’t come as a surprise and the chorus only serves to further illustrate a junkie’s delirium:

You wanna go for a ride?
I got sixteen hours to burn
And I’m gonna stay up all night

A sixteen hour ride with a cokehead? Sure — what could possibly go wrong?

Teenage Wristband is a song that needs air. The kind you only get from driving on dark streets with the windows down. It insists on being played loud.

No, louder than that.

Seriously, crank it up ’cause at 2:37, the fever breaks and the music washes over you like the waters of the River Jordan.

Five Reasons I’m In Love With That Song

5. That low, droning hum that heightens in intensity, tighter and tighter until it snaps at the end of the song.
4. The sweet ooh-honey-baby-child cooing back-up vocals courtesy of Apollonia. Yeah — that Apollonia.  The odds of me writing about a song not connected to Prince in some way are marginal at best.
3. The icy, glittering piano that book ends the song.
2. Dulli’s lascivious, almost pornographic delivery of the lyrics.
1. It reminds me of Augs and late nights spent driving around Orlando.

Listen to Teenage Wristband by The Twilight Singers on Spotify here.

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