learning love songs

est. 2008


April 2014


Dreary mornings are made tolerable by The Weakerthans. Rain and drudgery, grey skies and lingering dreams beg for this kind of song, the kind that creeps under your skin and crawls into your veins, scurries through your bloodstream and settles there for awhile, laying dormant and almost forgettable until it’s biting on your heartstrings.

“You always stole all my last words
Here’s no exception then
One more for me to send
And nothing happens in the end

I’m thinking of you less, more concerned
And more is less, I guess
It doesn’t matter now

Maybe we’ll never go insane
You always said we would
Sometimes I wished we could

With you lying naked in the rain
And singing Boney M
Cutting down all our old friends
I talk to them again now

So here’s the last one I have left
We fell a little deep
I watched you fall asleep

And nothing happens in the end
But I remember when I could remember when
Seems like a long time ago.”
~The Last Last One
The Weakerthans, Fallow


“There is only tonight and the light that bleeds from your heart,
Makes me want to try and start again.”

Everyone in the #emorevival scene seems real excited Mineral is reunited – I had heard the name but not the music, so I checked them out and instantly grew attached, grateful to find so much to love. I hear so much of “my kind” of emo scene in here, but I also hear the late-90s, in grunge-like moments of morose chords, pounded out bass lines and shouted vocals. The yearning of minor key melodies is interrupted by outbreaks of loud, soaring progressions, accompanying the weathered and world-weary narratives that so clearly inspired bands of the early 2000s that meant so much to me.

I’ve listened to “The Power of Failing” a few times through now, and there’s so many biting, honest moments, the kind of reveal I generally require of my favorite artists, and here it was,alive and well in 1997. Here’s the kind of breakdowns, bridges, and cymbal crashes that captivated me so when I got into modern music as a kid, the kind that still can. Here’s the kind of pain-on-the-page lyrics that tapped into my own when songs became the only way to process, when the words of someone else were the only way I could hope to find my own. There is longing here, there is passion deferred and hopelessness of the most desperate declared fashion.

Grateful to come across this, even if I’m late to the party. Glad to trace the roots of the kind of music, both its sounds and stories, that speaks to me, and recognize where it all came from. Inspired to see that artists can come back years down the line and spark the hearts of listeners old and new.

“I wouldn’t mind if you took me in my sleep tonight
I wouldn’t even put up a fight
I wouldn’t care if you took it all away today
I’m sure I wouldn’t even miss the pain

But I know I’ve got to live my life
And roll around on the ground and feel the strife
And realize along the way that I’m nothing more
Than a grain of salt in the salt of the eart
And everything is grace

So come on with the darkness
Come on with the fear
Cause I’ve got to start somewhere
And it might as well be here

When I’m finally naked and standing in the sunlight
I’ll look back at all of this selfishness and foolish pride
And laugh at myself.”

~Parking Lot
Mineral, The Power of Failing


It’s been awhile since I thought out a playlist, but I felt particularly compelled to create this one. I present: TBS Slow Jams, a pretty excellent collection of Taking Back Sunday at their most delicate, or at least destroyed enough to the point of slowed tempos. This selection is complete with deluxe, anniversary and re-issue tracks that bring out the best in some old favorites. It is designed to break your heart. I am going to listen to this for hours.

“You always come close but this never comes easy
I still know everything.”

~Great Romances of the 20th Century, Taking Back Sunday (Deluxe Version)

“This is all I ever asked from you
The only thing you couldn’t do.”

~This is All Now, Taking Back Sunday 

“I can’t say I blame you but I wish that I could
I’m sick of writing every song about you.”

~Head Club, TAYF10 acoustic

“Something real, make it timeless,
An act of God and nothing less will be accepted.
Now if you’re calling me out,
Then count me out.”

~Divine Internvetion, Louder Now

“Hoping for the best just hoping nothing happens
A thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins.”

~Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team) acoustic, Tell all Your Friends Re-Issue

“Well cross my heart and hope to…
I’m lying just to keep you here
So reckless, so thoughtless
So careless, I could care less.”

~…Slowdance on the Inside, Notes from the Past

“And I dare you to forget the marks you left across my neck
from those nights when we were both found at our best.”

~Your Own Disaster 04, Notes from the Past

“We spoke all night in a language only we could know.”
~It Takes More, Happiness Is

“And all I need to know
Is that I’m something you’ll be missing.
Maybe I should hate you for this
Never really did ever quite get that far.

~You’re So Last Summer, TAYF10 acoustic

“Well I don’t know where you’re going
but I know where you’ve been.
I’ve been tracing all your footsteps,
I’ve been counting all your sins.”

~Call Me in the Morning, Taking Back Sunday

“And when that push comes to a shove
We’ve got a headfirst kind of love.”

~All the Way, Happiness Is

“And I’m not so sure
if I’m sure of anything anymore.”

~The Blue Channel, TAYF10 acoustic

“I wanna hate you so bad, but I can’t,
I can’t stop this anymore than you can.”

~Bike Scene, TAYF10 acoustic

“Just ask the question come untie the knot
Say you won’t care, say you won’t care
Retrace the steps as if we forgot
Say you won’t care, say you won’t care
Try to avoid it but there’s not a doubt
And there’s one thing I can do nothing about”

~New American Classic, Where You Want To Be

“I get what I want until I want nothing at all
Until I want nothing at all.”

~Nothing at all, Happiness Is


Somewhere off of 41st Street on this beautiful spring afternoon, walking aimlessly in sunglasses, this song came to mind. My mom used to play it, when she was in a country phase a few years back and would always try to get me to go along with it. The only songs I ever liked were the ballads, like this one, and it’s stunning, stunning harmonies.

I got in my car and found it on YouTube and put in my headphones. Then I cried, and sang, sang, sang til it felt better, and that’s what I’ll be doing most of this afternoon.

“How can I bear to wake up and you’re not there
What will I do when I turn and reach for you
I’ll lay my tears on the windowsill
I’ll only cry till I get over you
But how long will that take me

Won’t you save me, and

Just a little bit longer.
‘Till I’m a little bit stronger to take all this.

Just a little more time till I can find a way
Please stay.

Will I ever smile again
When losing love takes my best friend?

To wonder where, wonder how
Wonder what you’re doing
One more night just before you break me
Hold me safely…

Just a little bit longer.
‘Till I’m a little bit stronger to take all this.
Just a little more time till I can find a way
Please stay.

So I’ll be a big girl, and just close my eyes
As you walk away, don’t say goodbye.
God save me
Please won’t you…

Just a little bit longer 
‘Till I’m a little bit stronger to take all this and
Just a little more time till I can find a way.
Won’t you stay
Just a little bit longer.” 
Little Big Town, The Road to Here


“Make me a day, make me whole again.”

The first few minutes of morning are usually my favorite. I like the quiet. I like the light. I usually leave the curtains open a little so I can let the sun greet me, waking me up with beams and shadows. But mostly I like how those first few moments of consciousness are the clearest of the day. They’re still pure. They haven’t been flooded — ruined — by reality yet.

This morning finds tears falling before my head leaves the pillow, finds me seemingly paralyzed beyond collapsing on the floor. Being OK is not an option. I cannot seem to find a new song sad enough, so I listen to the saddest songs I know I can find and make some coffee and practice my arabesque, because what else is there to do. To keep moving is to keep from breaking. We’re long past those first few minutes of morning now.


I’m reading this book about writing short, and there’s a chapter about song lyrics. There’s another chapter about tweaking the predictable, and others about parallelism and variety. Most of it, almost all of it, reaffirms what I’ve always thought I’ve known – that writing is writing is writing. When it’s good, it’s good, and you know it. 
Nick Torres packs such a punch in this Northstar track off “Pollyanna,” performed acoustic here, that all I can do is replay it, dissect it. The original pop punk setting of the song is fun, sure, but here, he is a master of metaphor, unencumbered. This is literary. This is why I can’t wait for new Cassino material, and why, in the meantime, I will dissect the rest of it over and over again.
“She will sleep here

In between the cracks
Just a flower with a broken back
Waiting for dirty water
Did you sleep alright, did you sleep…?
She’s giving beat stares from being beat all day
Indian eyes in the American way
Hail Marys and ale
A Hailed Mary that ails.”

~Between Horns and Halos 
Northstar, Pollyanna


Speed, slow-downs, syncopation. Delicacy and direct honesty. The movement in this song is captivating, the vulnerability is physical and every time I listen to Elena Tonra I get these troubling little chills, addicting in a way I cannot hope to fight. Her words are like whispered secrets I can hear and hold in mind, a quiet oasis in the noise. The more pretentious listeners among us sometimes tend to lump these female songwriters into a category. Especially when they’re British. I have been guilty of this and the criticisms are usually accurate. Their voices are not the strongest, their words are often borderline cliche. They. All. Sound. The Same. But I’ve found Daughter surpasses these stereotypes, in part because her songs have a pained quality, an expressiveness of metaphor. Musically they show firm grasp on the possibility of structure, building on verses and choruses throughout. Dynamics and space are used masterfully, whether through gently echoed electrics or soft strumming and picking backed by the most subtle of auxiliary sounds and drumrolls, nary a crash in sight. The lack of clutter makes it so easy to hear the spine behind the song, the authenticity of where this came from. I simply love the poetry of it, how bare it is. And I think that’s what shakes me so, what makes these little quakes in my musical mind so notable, because I hear these songs and where they come from and I cannot hope to match them but maybe, maybe I could try…

“That boy, take me away, into the night
Out of the hum of the street lights and into a forest
I’ll do whatever you say to me in the dark
Scared I’ll be torn apart by a wolf in mask of a familiar name on a birthday card

Blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me, so I stay the night.
Just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide-eyed, both in silence
Wide-eyed, like we’re in a crime scene

Well I have brittle bones it seems
I bite my tongue and torch my dreams,
Have a little voice to speak with
And a mind of thoughts and secrecy.
Things cannot be reversed, we learn from the times we are cursed
Things cannot be reversed, learn from the ones we fear the worst
And learn from the ones we hate the most how to…

Blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me, so I stay the night.
Just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide-eyed, both in silence

Cause we both know I’ll never be your lover
I only bring the heat
Company under cover
Filling space in your sheets
Well I’ll never be a lover
I only bring the heat
Company under cover
Filling space in your sheets, in your sheets

So, please just blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me so I stay the night
It’s just a young heart confusing my mind, but we’re both in silence
Wide-eyed, both in silence
Wide-eyed, like we’re in a crime scene.”

Daughter, His Young Heart


Recently I had the fortune to discover the incredible album that is Have Mercy’s “The Earth Pushed Back,” and it is captivating from start to finish. In a scene where bands get street cred and free streams for fitting a trendy sound and trolling on Twitter, it is gratifying, in a populist listener kind of way, to find a genre-spanning, East Coast indie alt-rock group such as this with emotive lyrics and longing-fused chord progressions. Traces of homage to pop punk/alt-rock of the past decade couple a sound more measured and mature, one that mimics the likes of American Football or early Copeland.

I love how melodic they are while standing on a foundation of accentuated bass lines, high-octave lead guitar thrashing and scratched-throat shouting. The album provides a balance of aggression and softer moments, blending deep, heavy chords with near whispers and occasional harmonies and strings. For a four-piece, this band sounds larger, using fills, timing and distortion to create that trademark suspension. Lyrically, these songs are destined to speak for the heartsick, spinning tales of captive desire, regret and longing with little end in sight through physical references to heads, hearts and arms, phone calls, moments and metaphor. 
I’m looking forward to checking out their newly released split with Daisyhead, as all signs point to this band firming up a reputation for itself. I’m looking forward to attaching this album, now found, to a time and a place, as is the case when I find myself alone with these records to hold onto. 

“I called you up, just where have you been
I’m just waiting for our lives to begin
No one wants you the way that I want you
When no one wants you
Can you say you want me too?

Why won’t she go home?
I have you on the other telephone?
Cause no one, no one can do the things you do
Say the three words that I just want you to
I need you

We laughed in the sun, we laid in the grass
I felt your earth pushing back, it pushed back
What you don’t know, don’t know
Is you’re gone and I’m home
But I’m all alone
For every body who knows what comes after

We laughed in the sun, we laid in the grass
I felt your earth pushing back, pushing back
What you don’t know, don’t know
Is you’re gone and I’m home
But I’m all alone
For everybody who sung from the rafters

I want you weak at the knees”

~Weak at the Knees
Have Mercy, The Earth Pushed Back

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