learning love songs

est. 2008




“It’s the wrong dream, with the wrong man,
With a cold gun, in your own hand.
Get it right this time, get it off your mind.
Let the summer rain bring you rest and shame and love.”

~Rest. Shame, Love
Augustana, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt

The random algorithms of Pandora couldn’t know this appears to be one of the rainiest summers on record. It couldn’t know that the first time I heard this song in years arrived on a lonely, rainy evening, and would linger in my ears through a stretch of heat-drenched dry days.

Augustana is one of those bands I will sort of always haphazardly defend. An early 2000s pop rock band that made a splash with a few overly played singles doesn’t necessarily merit favorite status, but I’ve always thought their full-lengths were solid listens. Their songs are knee-deep in sentiment, the guitar lines are simple and clear, and there’s a twinge of middle-of-nowhere folk that goes down easy. Taking the time to listen to “Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt” and mellow out to its laid-back rock, I feel like I am rediscovering a secret, like I am finding the box under my bed I left there years ago. Many of their songs on this record are beautiful and memorable. This one in particular is flooded with patience, even in its sad defeat. All thanks to a nicely curated Internet radio playlist that randomly reminded me of what I wanted to hear.


Lately I’ve been trying to find something new to listen to and, as is occasionally the case, something new is something I remember from years ago. 

Going through old iTunes files is one of my favorite ways to restock my iPod. Oftentimes I forget how much I enjoyed an album that I set aside because I had either a) overplayed it, b) underplayed it, c)overassociated it, d) taken an interest in a new genre. The self-titled Augustana record was a repeated listen of mine when I lived in the Finger Lakes, driving across hills and wondering, and then I completely forgot it existed. I’m fairly certain I’m the only person I know who actually enjoyed this record, but I found it extremely palatable, listenable and emotive, a perfect balance of hopeful and world-weary.

A pop rock band with a couple choice hits a decade or so ago, Augustana sort of faded into this weird space of jam band, country-tinged opener as more trendy hipster sounds took hold. Their sound, one could argue, felt a little tired and bored as new bands were coming out with tracks full of much heavier, deeper influences. Their structure is rather conventional, their lyrics are cliche-ridden and just a little stiff. Probably why I forgot about them. But I do remember playing this record, picking up the little details and layering in their songs, learning them. I love the subtle key accompaniments and tasteful chord changes – it’s a weathered sound, but that was so suitable for me, at a time of great reflection. A few years down the road, looking for new albums to occupy my mind and time and stumbling across this one, this song came flooding back as one of my favorites. I didn’t know it then, but it’s held up real nice over the years, a beautiful little testament to love gone unfulfilled that’s waiting just around the corner.

“You need a reason for the things I do
I need a miracle to see me through
I give you everything I got inside
If you just stay here tonight

My hands are tied and I’ve been rolling the dice
My legs are broken, I ain’t up for a fight
I’ll make it rain from an empty sky
If you just stay here tonight

You’ll be the last one picking up the pieces
You’ll be the last one standing up strong
You’ll be the last one making all the right things wrong

You need a lover in a first degree
I need a woman who believes in me
I’ll shine the way through the darkest night
If you just stay here tonight

My heart is aching and I’m down on a bend
My will is weak and I’m falling again
I get back up and try to make things right
If you just stay here tonight

You’ll be the last one picking up the pieces
You’ll be the last one standing up strong
You’ll be the last one making all the right things wrong
As the days go by…

And you know
We’ll be the last ones picking up the pieces
We’ll be the last ones standing up strong
We’ll be the last ones making all the right things wrong”
~Just Stay Here Tonight

Augustana, Augustana


The latest song for my try-to-learn-piano-parts-and-fill-in-the-rest endeavor.

Move to New York City
Take your woman by the hand
Leave her there with your things on the doorstep
And there’s no way around it
Could this be our last dance?
So fall asleep with the tv darling
I’ll be back again

~Twenty Years
Augustana, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt


sky black and blue
blue turned to red
it’s quiet in the streets now
it’s screaming in your head

i ain’t a fool
i’ve got my doubts
say it doesn’t hurt
doesn’t matter anyhow

saying hey you’re bleeding for nothing
it’s hard to breathe when you’re standing on your own
we’ll kill ourself to find freedom
you’ll kill yourself to find anything at all

~hey now
augustana, can’t love, can’t hurt

Blog at

Up ↑