Song of the day: AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB – The Dead Part Of You (1991)

The imminent arrival of a new American Music Club album always raises expectations, even though the last few have been less than overwhelming. Love Songs For Patriots was greeted with hosannas in the press, but in truth it was probably the group’s weakest record yet (and yes, I’m including Restless Stranger). There was a time, though, when they were one of the best bands on the planet, and Mark Eitzel was whipping up classic songs before breakfast. All of the four albums they made between 1987 and 1991 were as good as anything produced during the period, but it was Everclear, the band’s darkest, which was the absolute pinnacle. It was a record where Eitzel’s songwriting, his singing, the band’s playing and the production (some find it murky, but it’s infinitely preferable to the AOR gloss given to Mercury) were all as near as faultless as makes no difference. Every one of the eleven songs on the record is a classic – from the quiet desperation of “Why Won’t You Stay” to the post-binge comedown of “Jesus’ Hands”. In between there is bouncy country (“The Royal Café”), epic rock (“Rise” and “Sick Of Food”), folky laments (“What The Pillar Of Salt Held Up”) and even dark comedy (“Crabwalk”).

“The Dead Part Of You” is where the record reaches a peak of bilious frustration. It’s a “howl-at-the-moon” moment. Acoustic and electric guitars slash and soar as Eitzel gives one of the most impassioned vocals of his life. It seethes and cracks like that of a man at the very edge. Essentially the song is the frustrated, helpless howl of someone watching the spiralling downfall of a friend hell-bent on self-destruction following the end of an emotionally abusive relationship. Desperate to help, he just can’t get through to a person who is intent on “clinging to the dead part of the past”. The line “You’re just a baby in the back seat that a door slam sends crying into the world” is the perfect metaphor for an innocence corrupted and a spirit broken. It’s bruising stuff, and the band provide a rough and raw accompaniment that teeters on the edge of collapse. It’s one of lead guitarist Vudi’s most vicious and domineering displays.

Post Everclear there have been moments when Eitzel has scaled the same peaks, both with the band and in his solo work. But he’s not come close to achieving that consistent level of brilliance displayed on the 1991 album. Maybe the next record will. Who knows?

The price of your soul is less than the cab fare
That gets you home before the living end
The dead part of you leaves me with a blessing
From a destruction of your beauty
Your self-hatred your self-pity

There’s so little of you left

The dead part of you takes me out
And says the beast in me is fading fast
And leaves me with a great big goodbye hug
It’s busy clinging to the dead part of the past

You only love one thing
And there’s so little of it left
He has taken everything
And there’s so little of you left

You’re just a baby in the back seat
That a door slam sends crying into the world
And a cab driver’s in a hurry that matters more than
More than anything we can hope for from the world

You only love one thing
And there’s so little of it left
He has taken everything
And there’s so little of you left

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s