learning love songs

est. 2008


The Gaslight Anthem


“Most of this life’s been a drag of a high
And lows like a blow in a paid thrown title fight
Most of my sins were born in a kiss on a night like this
Calling all lonely hearts

Don’t you want a life like we saw on the picture show?
So come on, give me something, come on, keep me up all night

You say, my baby, all this time in between drives me crazy
I want a life on fire, going mad with desire
I don’t wanna survive, I want a wonderful life.”

~A Wonderful Life
Brian Fallon, Painkillers

The new Brian Fallon solo record is out, and it’s everything I wanted “Get Hurt” to be.

Seriously. He should’ve released this years ago. 

Without his full band but never lacking in layers, “Painkillers” plays like the most distilled version of Fallon we’ve heard yet. His  references are familiar – tombs, cars, pills, they’re all here for the mixed metaphor party, and the chords are too. But I’ve still spent the whole day playing it over and over again, surrendering to the hooks of “Among Other Foolish Things” and “Rosemary” just like the tracks off “The ’59 Sound” once hooked me.

To me, this collection is the result of a songwriter’s efforts to define himself around the edges. His focus is still heartbreak in all its forms, and love in all its highs and lows. Most songs have a “been-there” attitude, run down and over it but still, somehow, crawling back for more. And while he tries some different things vocally, occasionally evoking Dylan in a throat-speak kind of way, nothing that he attempts is out of his range, or out of his zone, or out of his style. And as a result, the whole thing is really cohesive, and authentic, in ways that the more recent Gaslight Anthem records were lacking.

“Smoke,” “Nobody Wins” and “Honey Magnolia” are instant standouts after I’d already played the lead single, “A Wonderful Life,” to death over the past few weeks. The re-recordings of “Long Drives” and “Red Lights,” originally Molly and the Zombies tracks, are welcome in their revival, with a lot more harmonies and clearer guitar interplay to match the rest of the record style.  The record is littered with heart crushing lines: “Last night I remembered being 17 / I met a girl with a taste for the world and whisky and rites of spring.” As was the case with The Horrible Crowes, Fallon chooses to dress up his verse-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus sort of stucture with lots of fun auxiliary – a tambourine or piano is never far out of reach and “Painkillers” is all the more itneresting for it. In a lot of ways it feels like a return to his roots, and the Americana rock that built TGA’s fanbase.

As catchy as the solos can be, the star of the show, as I would’ve expected, is Brian Fallon’s exceptional capacity for self-reflective storylines. The best lines are when he’s alone struggling with his demons, drowning in dreams and getting drunk on the look of a lover. These scenes are repeated time and time again in all his work, and I have to wonder if these are real people he knows, or just characters he’s invented in their image. Maybe a little bit of both. I do not know if “Painkillers” will draw any new fans Fallon’s way, but for the diehards, it is a welcome, familiar taste, a new spin on the same old imagery and a perfectly sad, sweet, stylized indulgence.

“But you said
I’m alright Baby I don’t mind
I’ll get on just fine
on them long long drives.”

~Long Drive
Brian Fallon, Painkillers


Sympathy, this is my best disguise. 
My skin stepped out for my bones to dry up
For the rest of the world outside to see.
You see,you see I bleed on the side.
It’s a part time thing, a private affair.
I try to keep it out of the light.
I must confess, I didn’t recognize you tonight
Dressed up like my love.”

When Gaslight gets it right, there is no doubt this is a band worth believing in. Sure, many have lamented “Get Hurt,” and its cringe-worthy moments, but the band had the good sense to re-record “Halloween” in studio, and there, they capture the mood that makes this band great.

I am sorry I missed their tour this fall, because they are a truly excellent live band. They sit and settle together, they do not scatter, and through that they weave a dark and solemn sound, a powerful one at that. This track exemplifies this ability. This track is captivating. I love its patience and tension, I love its subtle structural changes and lack of a chorus. I love the way it gets you to listen, through wordplay and repetition. I love the way Brian Fallon, at his most capable, howls just so. I love how the story it tells is not one of perfection, but one marred in confusion and masquerade, persisting in spite. 


“And I hate these things but I always attend
A little sip of something to take off the edge.

And I make my way through the ghosts in the room
Trying to crack a smile
And who are you supposed to be?
You look like heaven tonight
Me, I’m a tomb, I’m a corpse in a suit,
Trying to look a little alive.

Are you alright?
Cause I worry sometimes
Are you dressed up to take my life?

Keep it coming, keep it coming.

Well I think I saw you for the flash of a moment
Your broken heart and the body that holds it
I lost your scent in the flash of the party
The big bright lights, baby, constantly haunt me.
I’ve never been right, have you ever been lied to?
I think I just saw the same scars upon you
Is this a disguise? Or a masquerade for me?

Keep it coming, 

Keep it coming, keep it coming.

Who are you supposed to be?
Yeah, you look just like my love.
Who are you supposed to be?
Are you dressed just like my love?
Who are you supposed to be?
Yeah, you look just like my love.

Who are you supposed to be?
Are you dressed just like my love for Halloween?”

The Gaslight Anthem,Get Hurt


“Don’t ask me where I’ve been
Cause you don’t want to know. 
Don’t ask me who I’m seeing, 
No, you don’t want to know.
Don’t come around here 
When I need you the most.
Leave it alone, 
Leave a little room for the holy ghost. 

Now your pretty horses run wild and free,
You can go and find a lover, baby, better than me.
Talking snow for days with your friends in La, 
Have mercy.

Now your pretty horses run wild and free,
You can go and find a lover baby, better than me.
Talking snow for days with your friends in La ,
Have mercy.”

I like it when songs devastate me.

No, I love it. In the way I love strong coffee and long drives, in the way that makes me feel OK being alive and feeling feelings, which for me, like most humans, is a complicated endeavor. So I find songs that devastate me, that speak to whatever hurt I harbor and exacerbate it,like needles in the wound. Sometimes, those songs find me.

The new Gaslight record offers much to discuss in term’s of growth, reputation and catalog. But why talk about that right now, when the best moments are those of supreme heartbreak, perfectly channeled bedroom poetry accompanied by muted guitars and ghostly, dark vocals? I see all this when I am transfixed by the final bonus track on the iTunes release, one of the saddest songs Brian Fallon has ever written, one that is cloaked in the despair of loss and yet accepting of its own loneliness. I played it far too many times this week. It is an instant favorite, the kind of song I won’t forget, the kind of song I would send like as a message in a bottle, that I would rather wrap myself up in all day than go out and put on whatever face and front is needed to get through the day.


“I came to get hurt/Might as well do your worst to me.”

~Get Hurt 
The Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt

Hearing this song tonight, alone in a hazy July, I don’t think The Gaslight Anthem will let me down. The first track I heard off their much-anticipated next album is a good song but it had me apprehensive. It felt a little heavy-handed, like maybe they hadn’t progressed much and instead stuck in their comfort zone by pushing the raucous guitars and lyrical tropes that define them without adding much else. But this, the title track, this is slow-burn and frightful, this is dark and wounded and perfectly Gaslight….and it made me realize, I’m glad they’ve stuck to their sound.

The echoing backing harmonies, the steady drum beat, hint of keys and Brian Fallon’s always on point bluesy-rock paint the nights of loneliness and need just the way tracks like “When We Were Young” and “Mae” do, but with a fuller soundscape. I love how settled it feels, how it sits in this slow tempo before building to the same hurt-filled chorus hook that “Handwritten” lives and dies by. I’m encouraged by the layers, the in-between transitions and attention to detail in the guitar licks and vocals, and that same familiar feeling of hurt – and the way that it closes, too soon and without satisfying resolve, that sounds like getting hurt to me.

Often with bands we’ve loved for years, it’s easy to get disappointed when they don’t recreate our favorite albums, when there’s so much more of that original feeling and connection you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s because the band grew in a direction that doesn’t fit your taste. Or,you realize that original connection was more subjective, colored by the lens of your life and times more than what this band with all about. On the flip side, sometimes you get bored if it sounds too much the same, if it brings the style but not that spark of newness that made it so compelling in the first place. But Gaslight, since I found them in the summer of 2010, has been in a constant in my post-college years through several of their albums, and I’ve loved that they’ve retained so much of the intensity and authenticity that drew me in.

I’ll never forget that concert in the fall of 2013, when they came on stage to a roaring crowd in DC’s 9:30 Club and launched into the opening bars of “Mae,” my favorite track off “Handwritten,” killed it, and closed it with a massive insignia scrim dropping at the back of the stage as the final chords rang out. That show solidified what I knew – this band is powerful together, skilled and sound, and they’re not going anywhere. Their songs, and their words, will continue to fill in the nights for me, the nights spent ruminating and wondering. 


It’s probably not healthy to sit in your bedroom and listen to the same songs on repeat all evening, not when they’re ones you’ve already heard a million times, and know all the words intimately, repeating them as as you could recite your first address and phone number.

The loneliness that comes with your favorite songs is a comforting one, albeit an arrogant one. No one can come between you and your favorite songs, no lover past, present or future, no songwriter yet-to-be-heard can interrupt. If anything, your experiences and influences make you grow closer to that you know, allowing you to value the familiarity and comfort this one song can give you the other new finds and sounds fail to deliver.

What a classic this song is. What a sad kiss-off, what a despondent, defeated narrative. It’s the kind of song I don’t always play, because it’s so sad, but when I want to listen to “The ’59 Sound” over and over again, you can bet I’ll be stilled for this three minutes and 42 seconds, replaying all the failures and faults and regrets. Anyone who doesn’t when they hear this song has never had their heart broken.

“You can tell Gail, if she calls
That I’m famous now for all of these rock and roll songs
And even if that’s a lie
She shoulda given me a try

When we were kids on the field of the first day of school
I would’ve been her fool
And I would’ve sang out your name in those old high school halls
You tell that to Gail, if she calls

And you can tell Jane, if she writes
That I’m drunk off all these stars and all these crazy Hollywood nights
And that’s total deceit
But she shoulda married me

And tell her I spent every night of my youth on the floor
Bleeding out from all these wounds
I would’ve gotten her right out of that town she despised
You tell that to Janie, if she writes

But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
That’ll cut you to ribbons sometimes

And all you can do is just wait by the moon
And bleed if it’s what she says you oughta do

You remind Anna, if she asks why
That a thief stole my heart while she was making up her mind
I heard she lives in Brooklyn with the cool
And goes crazy over that New York scene on 7th Avenue

But I used to wait at the diner a million nights without her
Praying she won’t cancel again tonight
And the waiter served my coffee with a consolation sigh
You remind Anna, if she asks why

Tell her it’s alright
You know it’s hard to tell you this

Oh it’s hard to tell you this
Here’s looking at you, kid”

~Here’s Looking at You, Kid
The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound



I’m a little late on this one.

I wanted to sit down and write about my favorite albums of 2012, the music that came out, crossed my path and meant something to me for any combination of reasons.

I wanted to talk about how there were songs that reminded me how wonderful it is to be young and alive even though it’s messy and mean, like Japandroids and The Menzingers. And how there were songs that blasted the cracks in my heart with deadly aim, and others that caulked in the gaps, like those from The Gaslight Anthem and Lovedrug.

I wanted to do this yesterday. But time got the best of me, and here we are, 2013 with no “Favorite Albums of 2012” on the blog. Let’s proceed.

Normally people order and rank these things; I have done this in the past and found it to be useful, clean and a fun reference for discussion purposes should the topic ever arise. My rationale for placing an album on this list could come from many places: Did I hear it, and love it instantly? Was I drawn to replay it in full one more time, or are there tracks that I simply couldn’t get enough of? And why? Was it the meaning, the message, the technique, or the timing?

I’ve also decided to highlight other albums that caught my ears for being very successful records in one way or another, because 2012 was a damn fine year for new music from artists both familiar and burgeoning. Here’s a whole bunch of proof:

10) mewithoutyou – Ten Stories
Kicking off the list, an old favorite band out with a new, thematic collection that’s eerie and haunting and potentially their most polished, meticulously produced effort yet.  Details pop out at every new listen, a harmony or a guitar part or an elusive, mysterious phrase. So enchanting, how could you not want to get lost in the night inside an otherwordly tale?

“All circles presuppose they’ll end where they begin/But only in their leaving can they ever come back around”

Posts from the Year: 7/15/12

9) Passion Pit – Gossamer
Ya heard. Electropop made it on my favorites list. But I’ve never liked electropop this much before, I’ve never seen the weirdness and depth this way. Played it all the time, even got my mom hooked on it. I found this album uplifting and entirely thoughtful, bright and shiny but ever calm, ever cool and just enough collected. I hear the  live shows are slammin’. Also: Gossamer is, and has been, one of my favorite all-time words.Shimmers just like it should, a perfect title.

“When then I’ll say what they say/And I’ll do what they do/But it doesn’t mean a goddamned thing”

8) Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams
Oh how perfect and beautiful this album is, how folksy. Though it seems acoustic and auxiliary-heavy Americana bands are a stone’s throw from every dive bar in mid-sized cities to the hottest clubs frequented by trendy, hipster-inclined urbanites, Lord Huron is, to my ears, the real deal. Kick back, relax and let their lonesome dreams interrupt and intersect with yours for awhile. And take a walk in the fucking woods while you’re at it.

“I’ve been dreaming again of a lonesome road/Where I’m lost and I’ve got no friends/Just the rocks and the trees and my lonesome dreams and a road that’ll never end”

Posts from the Year: 12/12/12

7) Bad Books – II
Perhaps I am inclined to rank anything involving the likes of Andy Hull and Kevin Devine, given my listening roots grew up in their respective heydays. And yet I have never appreciated them as much musically as I do today. Maybe it’s in the maturity, the sardonic tone, or the willingness to try on styles and sounds exemplifying a mastery of creative convention. Bad Books colors in the lines, but this is by no means a dig on lack of originality. Rather, we’ve got layers and layers of complimenting and contrasting rock ‘n’ roll theory. More, please.

“Folded arms and I felt your heart hum/Speedy eyes and I want what I want/Truth cut with a generalized fear/Cash baggies and an ash tray beers/I know you know/I wanna love you but I can’t let go/Honey, it never stops/No it never stops”

6) Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
How did you not just instantly love this band? Rootsy and bluesy and fusion-y and all kinds of familiar, Alabama Shakes debuted with a powerful hello to an indie pop audience that was ready to lap up something designed to comfort the soul. We’ve got real instruments, real vocal talent like we haven’t heard in some time, real skilled players, and a whole lot of heart. Between the dynamics, the passion and the style, Alabama Shakes has serious rock chops, and I’d bet strong that we’ve only seen the start.

“I feel so homesick/Where’s my home/Where I belong/Where I was born/I was told to go/Where the wind would blow/And it blows away”

(Bonus Link: Listen to this full KEXP performance!) Seriously. Do it. Your face might melt, though.

5) fun. – Some Nights
Yes, I know I’ve said The Format is better (and first!) but what a record this was. Everyone seemed to love it, everyone related to it. At the tail end of 2012, I found myself replaying this album over and over. Great for drives, for thinking alone. Nate Ruess is a genius at capturing the mischief in melancholy, the hope in the view from the ground, and I am grateful he continues to make wonderful music to share with the world.

“My head is on fire/But my legs are fine/After all they are mine”

Posts from the Year: 8/14/12

4) Lovedrug – Wild Blood
Redemption comes in many forms. Lovedrug’s first full-length after a run of successful EP releases left me feeling full and happy, and intrigued by the new direction of a band. Focus, melody, depth and layers were always strong currents, but these qualities are the crux of Wild Blood’s impressive, hungry and ever-onward spirit. Glad this record was made, because it marks something of an end of an era for me — a triumphant effort from a band I’ve followed for years in a year that, for me, showed similar feats.

“We were owls when they came in the night/they were lookin’ for a creature to fight/I can see it that you’re ready to go/Like a bat in the cave of my soul”

Posts from the Year: 2/10/123/6/123/13/12,  4/15/126/15/12

3) The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
Sometimes, people kind of laugh a little when I tell them I’m a pop punk/hardcore/whatever the fuck you call emo these days fan. A bit of an eyeroll. But The Menzingers are amphetamine laced proof that the genre isn’t dead and Epitaph is a fighting beast of a label(so shut your fucking trap). Heart-wrenching and boldly embracing pathetic helplessness and hopeless, this album is a collection of odes to self-fulfilled failures past and present. As I am a codified expert on such instances in my own life, it was entirely too easy to relate. Coated in familiar chords and fast-finger solos and just the right amount of scream, I listened to this at my worst only to end up feeling pretty damn close to my best.

“I will fuck this up/I fucking know it”

Posts from the Year: 8/22/12, 8/27/12

2) The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
What to say that I haven’t said? Do I have a bigger music idol of 2012 than Brian Fallon?  Not really, maybe, probably not. “Handwritten” proves that TGA will continue to churn out confessional narratives with amphitheater-sized proportions. They’ve proven to be true to their own style, a dash of the past included, so the end product is good, old-fashioned, new rock and roll.  And this album could’ve been a make or break moment after so many past successes. No doubt it was a daunting task to say, “Oh shit, gotta write more great songs.” And yet, I am more of a fan than ever.

“And we waited for sirens that never come/And we only write by the moon, every word handwritten/And to ease the loss of youth and how many years I’ve missed you/Pages plead forgiveness, every word handwritten”

Posts from the Year: 4/30/127/16/127/19/127/31/129/13/1210/9/1212/5/12

1) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Japandroids just got it just right. They got the hunger right, the anger and fury, the passion, and the inescapable needs and conflicts of living fast. They’ve captured a certain brazen slyness that once thrived all over punk and rock scenes that’s shrunken to give way to pretension, a forced literariness that can be so guarded. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not really a good one either, if you’re looking for something to rock out to.

If you told me that 2012 would be the year that it turned out to be for me personally, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Or, maybe I would’ve of, but immediately passed out from fright, thereby changing said future through butterfly effect means. So, the present is fleeting, the past is permanent and the future, a wide scary unknown. In this lost haze, Japandroids brought a reminder that all you have is you and now, and fast is fun when your eyes are open.

Musically, omigod, so cool. Not only was I completely blown away by the sheer sonic power of such a tiny band (two skinny white dudes!), but you don’t hear guitars played in this way, so full of repetitive fierceness, in ways that are simultaneously melodic. This has a lot to do with the chord choices, and phrasing of vocal, but we’ve got some real metal technique doing some indie rock things.

So thanks, Japandroids, for making me remember so much of what I love about loud and fierce rock music, and for laying it all out so honestly, that there’s no way I will ever be able to hear these songs, and not connect to the moments, people and places of 2012. What more do you want out of an album of the year?

“It’s a lifeless life with no fixed address to give/But you’re not mine to die for anymore/So I must live”

Posts from the Year: 6/2/126/18/12

Special Awards:
Best EPs: The 1975 – Sex EP, The 1975 – Facedown EP

Best Genre-Bending, The Cool Award: Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Most Ambitious, Most Likely to Make Me Dance Contemporary Ballet, Most Poetic Album Title: Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Best “Comeback:”  Soundgarden – King Animal

Best Collaborative: GOOD Music – Cruel Summer

Best Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift – Red

Best Album for a Love Scene in Outer Space: The xx – Coexist

Best Metal (TIE): Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind, Every Time I Die – Ex-Lives


“Honey we came to dance with the girls with the stars in their eyes…”
~We Came to Dance
The Gaslight Anthem, Sink or Swim
I saw Gaslight Anthem last night in D.C. Well, two nights ago, technically, by the date, but just a little over 24 hours. It was everything I wanted and more. 
Venue, the 9:30 Club, got sweaty, but it was a pretty beautiful place, charming architecture with dirty floors. The audience was hip, and liked to mosh. Didn’t expect that but it thrilled me. There were action figures and red candles settled on the amps, kind of felt like what the set up must’ve been in their Jersey garage back when. The setlist was pretty impeccable, I could’ve heard “When We Were Young,” but they opened with “Mae” which broke my heart in just the right way. After that, a black scrim dropped down, showing a fierce bird/dragon emblem.  I really appreciate their song choices. “Handwritten” tracks sounded fresh, those guitar melodies just sliced the air and locked in a revelry as the album would have you believe. Truly impressed by the layers and precision, definitely got the feeling that touring over the last few years have given these guys a good handle on the kind of riffs that can just energize a crowd. Bass tones were solid, I couldn’t see Alex Levine play too much from where I was standing and its mix wasn’t too balanced from where I was standing unfortunately, but sounded good if not too intricate. Alex Rosamilia and Brian switching off on lead guitar melodies works well, they really have different feels and gear preferences that gives you a good blend of metal-inspired riffs (fastfingers!! I watched them as close as I could over the heads and iPhones) and sustained  chromatic notes that are all feel (goddamn those semi-hollows sound great, I would want one if I had money to burn and better shoulder muscles to show it off cause they’re damn heavy).
“There you go, turn the key and engine over 
Let her go, let somebody else lay at her feet…” 
The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten
Dudes in the band seemed like lovable punks; think they’d make good friends if I happened to find myself friends with them. As lead vocalist and MC and de facto spokesman, Brian Fallon was not ashamed to be a jerk – calling himself a liar, and a bad friend, and yelling at some dude who said “Fuck You” after he had declared his New York Jets allegiance (“Isn’t my life terrible enough?” he shouted back). He told a cool story about Bon Jovi texting him (with a great line about filling 20,000+ capacity stadiums that to me revealed a certain ambitious insecurity I immediately recognized) that could’ve been seen as douchy if he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who didn’t care if you thought he was douchey. We all hear his songs, so we know he’s a sentimental old fool at the core. He didn’t talk too, too much, just enough, I think, to give you a feel of who he wanted to present himself to be that night. Guy seems existential as fuck, but if he read that he’d probabyl tell you that’s just my perception of him and I don’t really know. You could speculate, maybe, if The Gaslight Anthem will just be Brian Fallon someday —  I’ll bet his bandmates do, given the media attention he gets — but I do not predict that in the near future because this band gives you a show, a mood, a scene, and that generally can be more profitable in many ways including the obvious financial ones.I would like to see them stay around for awhile more. As for his singing – he did what I’ve seen him do with live footage, tinker with the higher melodies to make them more comfortable, cause night after night that can get pretty taxing I’d imagine given how raspy his voice is a lot of the time….however, a gift for melody and counterpoint seems to work in Fallon’s favor here, surprising his audience with more complex parts on even the most familiar of tunes.

“Well, I wonder which song they’re gonna play when we go. 
I hope it’s something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow.”

~The ’59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
Older tracks, like a personal faves “We Came to Dance” and “Drive,” as well as an extended intro version of “Angry Johnny and the Radio” were rehearsed really well, obviously, to the point of reinvented solos and Brian turning his back to the audience to jam out with the long-haired bearded drummer, Benny. Benny did not seem like a super-master technician trick wise, but he was all feel, all dynamics and pocket and drive and push that really propels a lot of their song structure. “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” was so good to hear, so so so so so good to hear, even though they took a break before the last verse to give Brian a minute to talk about the ex-girlfriend in the third verse.  Following a one-song acoustic break with the opener that I had missed, there were some cuts from “American Slang,” including the title track that made me want to run away and do all kinds of things and see all kinds of things and have no cares in the world other than what the day might bring. Continuing that theme emotionally and musically, “Diamond Church Street Choir” was dead on with the backup vocals and all. Actually I was really impressed with how they used backup vocals overall, including those of the third guitarist, Ian. Really clear balance and really retro at times, especially in “Here Comes My Man.” Love seeing simple harmony backsup in a rock band…again, retro and quite pleasing sonic-wise.

“They’ll find me beat down out in the universe
Though I’ll never forget where I’m from…”

~The Diamond Church Street Choir
The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

Overall, they presented a really cohesive catalog, and message, and feel. Condensing four LPs into an hour and half show isn’t the easiest task, but you can tell they’ve learned what tracks from past albums have real staying power and played a role in crafting their sound as it exists today. You can tell they’re proud, and still having fun. Still in some shock at their fan base. Personally, I was unbelievably happy to hear so many songs I loved, get a better feel for where these songs are coming from in terms of both inspiration and persperation. 
And of course, it just made me think about how different my life would be today if I follow different dreams, if I wound up at club after club and bar after bar night after night.  
“And the only thing we know is it’s getting dark and we better go
And the only thing we say are the despairs of the day, 

And if you’re too tired, go to sleep, my brothers,
And if you’re too tired, go to sleep, my brothers
I’m alright to drive”

The Gaslight Anthem, Sink or Swim
There is a lot more I could say, about these songs and how they made me feel, and how it seemed they were making a lot of other people feel — from the toe-tappers on the mezzanine in their glasses and vests … the youngish looking girl with a huge smile dancing her ass off to my left and the guy in front of me with the bald spot who kept turning around and looking at me out of the corner of his eye … to the big dude in the Menzigners shirt who kept crossing back and forth though where my friends and I were standing….and I could say a whole lot abot those people who stand so fucking still at concerts I have no idea why they’re even there….and what about those sweet amazing couples, hugging and swaying and kissing, so intimate admist all this ruckus? Quite interesting to me to the blonde girl sitting and nodding her head to the beat, (tour or venue crew?) so controlled and composed as she looked on from what I can best describe as a private fenced-off box stage right that I would’ve given a pinky toe to be sitting in. The romance, the lust, the draw, it was there in every corner no matter how disguised among the crowds of D.C.’s apparently varied population of music fans.

“Now do you blow it out come Friday night?
See if you wanna, you can find me on the hood under the moonlight
Radio, oh radio, do you believe there’s still some magic left
Somewhere inside our souls?”

The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten

There is a lot more I could say, about these songs and how they make me feel, about how many years I’ve heard this band and how that cutthroat honesty, unafraid of drama or cliche, gets me every time..a lot more I could say, but I have a sleep debt and a long, long week to shine on through. Here goes nothing, again – if there was any other takeaway from last night, it’s that truly anything is possible, no matter how frightening or far-fetched.

“I’ve never felt so strange
Standing in the pounding rain
Thinking about what my mother once said
Maybe I should call me an ambulance”

~The Patient Ferris Wheel 
The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound

Sidenote: We’re going to see a lot of lists soon, it being December and all. I am a little too zonked right now (whatever that means) to process my top 10 albums of the year, but I will see that when I read quick briefs of album reviews of those I haven’t encountered, it’s really easy to make me not want to listen to the album, and that’s if you state the obvious. Lyric excerpts are too often used as crutches. Tell me why I need to listen to this and why it is better than anything else, don’t give me meeting minutes. Fuck if I know anything about music writing, though.


This makes me smile.

First there’s the seemingly unchoreographed, slightly awkard milling about stage, clapping and casting sidelong glances to those with instruments in hand. He is the new kid, young and anxious and uncontrollably giddy. Then that second verse? The way Bruce smiles in the background, then the way he nails the last two lines and the ? You can tell Brian Fallon is having the time of his life. This is the moment he cannot believe he is really living.

Good things come to those who don’t give up.

Plus, who doesn’t love this song? It was extra meaningful for me this past summer, deployed all alone in the world with little but memories for comforting company. Made me remember how much fun I’ve been fortunate enough to have. Then there’s how I routinely feel my bones aching, catch my hair falling out and require four aspirin instead of two after too much hard liquor on Friday nights. Feeling older makes you remember how free it felt to be young, I suppose…yet all of it just makes me want to hold on tighter, to dive back into doing whatever it takes to get that life I didn’t dare dream of. The one where I get to feel careless and tameless, inspired and unencumbered by passion and love and nothing to hold me back.

They’d say not to do it. But surely listening to conventional wisdom never did Bruce Springsteen or Brian Fallon any good.

“Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim,
The walls of my room are closing in,
There’s a war outside still raging,
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win.

I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember,
No retreat, baby, no surrender.
Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend,
No retreat, baby, no surrender.

~No Surrender
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.


Pretty obsessed with this one off “Handwritten.” Nice contrast in the early guitar parts, then some really resounding but subtle delay, just the way it should be used. There’s something circular, almost merry-go-round about it, maybe it’s in the way he manipulates the vocal line on the chorus.  There’s only so much build until the end, it is steady.

Don’t call it a sleeper track — I think it’s one of the most mature perspectives we’ve heard from Gaslight yet. It’s completely and utterly patient, but none the less heartfelt for it. This is a song that recognizes the sweeter side to the gravity, if not the tragedy, of waiting for someone to come around, waiting for life’s tides to turn. At such times, usually, there is nothing to do but wait.
I listened to this song at least two dozen times this week, spurred by a flood of memories and kisses that made me beg for a rewind button to appear, because so much can change so fast. Some moments, some people, can rewrite the soul in an instant without any sound intention. Just like that, the world is different, even though everything around you is the same.
It’s kind of like taking a walk down the streets you drive by all the time. The vantage point is different, off-kilter, and you wonder how you’ve missed so much all this time. Like ornate window trimmings on an otherwise ordinary house, or a flowering tree littering petals along the sidewalk, or a brass nameplate on a mailbox, or a sad, yellowed front yard that must’ve been abandoned for years. You know you’ve seen these things before, in passing, but from this point of view, you use a whole other set of eyes. And then, in a way, it  makes you appreciate the whole scene that much more. 

“Stay the same, don’t ever change,
Cause I’d miss your ways.

With your Bette Davis eyes,
And your mama’s party dress.

While this city pumps its aching heart
For one more drop of blood,
We work our fingers down to dust
And we wait for kingdom come
With the radio on.

I wanna see you tonight
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
If you ain’t been in love for a while.

I was born beside a river
That flows to a raging sea
That will one day serve to quell,
Or one day be the death of me.

In my faded jeans and far away eyes,
And salty carnival kiss,
That all my former lovers say
Was once magnificent.

I wanna see you tonight,
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
And if you ain’t, oh if you ain’t…
I wanna see you tonight,
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
If you ain’t been in love for a while

And still this city pumps its aching heart
For one more drop of blood.
We work our fingers down to dust
While we wait for kingdom come
With the radio on…

It’s been so long Mae, so long
It’s been so long Mae, so long
But since the radio’s on…”

The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten

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