I have this really great knack for making friends with people who love music.
Like, really LOVE it without being pretentious Barry-esque chowderheads.
A couple of days go, Dana texted me with lyrics to Prince’s Raspberry Beret. Let’s be honest here – ain’t nobody gonna love you more than the person who texts you Prince lyrics. True love is Fountain Diet Cokes, Prince lyrics and shoulder kisses and if anyone tells you otherwise — they’re lying.
A friend and I have been having this ongoing conversation about the generational shift in listening to music. My boy is a little older than I am so he grew up in the album era where you let your tape rock til your tape popped whereas I was an album girl for a hot minute when I still bought CDs but made the smooth transition over to individual songs via mp3 and haven’t really looked back since.
Lately, I’ve come to a realization. Listening to individual songs is like reading favored quotes from a novel. They sound good but you’re not seeing the whole picture.
“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
It’s beautiful, right? A great love story – lush, poetic and effulgent with hope but unless you read the entire text, you have no way of knowing that this gorgeous scrawl is actually about how the very hope that sustains a man will eventually destroy him (unless you’re a real cynic who thinks all stories about pretty girls end in heartbreak).
That being the case, I’m coming back around to listening to entire albums straight through. And that has a lot to do with Spotify and The Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten.
Spotify is like being best friends with a really good DJ who doesn’t try to make you listen to shit you don’t care about and Handwritten? It might just be a perfect album.
It is a labor of love – every word handwritten. Every track painstakingly handpicked. These songs have this incredible ability to make me nostalgic for my own life. I’ve never been down to Biloxi Parish or driven on Mulholland Drive, but I get it.
The sentiment is universal and listening to the record, your nostalgia kicks up like dust swirling in a summer breeze.
My favorite thing about this record is how I don’t have a favorite thing.
However, I play this game where I try to choose and much like picking your favorite sandwich, it’s an exercise in futility (Go ahead. Try to pick your favorite sandwich. You can’t do it, can you?) as well as a testament to Brian Fallon’s skills as a songwriter:
I love the cadence of the chorus in Howl – “From your hips on down like elec-tric through the ground.”
It’s the Van Morrison-esque Oh-Sha-La-La sweetness in Here Comes My Man.
Biloxi Parish. Totally Biloxi Parish because he’s right – nothing truly matters that you cannot find for free.
I take that back.
Desire has that great line about giving anything for the touch of your skin and the song is damp with longing. Like, the same kind of longing that Bruce sang about in I’m On Fire.
Oh and God, Mae! Because it’s rooted so deeply in Thunder Road and damn if it ain’t pretty…
I’ve always had a space for this album inside me. I just didn’t know it until I heard it and I’m so glad I did.
Having heard it, I feel a little more complete and isn’t that the whole point? To find missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle until you’re whole?