Sometimes you find the all-time perfect song already in your iTunes a week prior to your wedding day - and sometimes it even names the location.
Rock’n’Roll Valentines - Jeffrey Lewis 2012
Roses are Red
Vinyl is Black
Skip the Bouquet
Send me a Stack
I believe I know someone this may pertain to: Neckgear.
"And to ease the loss of youth
and the many, many years I’ve missed you
pages plead forgiveness, every word handwritten…”
—Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
There’s something about rock and roll music and its lasting connection to youth that later in life can almost give you an alternate history of growing up. Listening to The Who’s Quadrophenia can take me back to those awkward years in a heartbeat - yet I don’t know anything about being either a mod or a rocker. (A mocker, on the other hand…well, don’t get me started!)
Growing up a few hours away from the Jersey Shore made Bruce Springsteen’s music a natural and easy source for an alternate version of my youth. While I never got caught on the South Beach Drag’s Tilt-a-Whirl, I did see my friend Kenny get stuck upside-down on that coaster in Wildwood. It’s interesting to note that both Bruce and that particular Who album are steeped heavily in the allure of the beach and ocean. There’s also a deep romantic streak running through all this music that’s not always visible at surface level. Sometimes it takes awhile for it to be noticed; maybe that’s due to years and distance you put on with the tunes over the years of growing older.
Tonight at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, we’ll once again spend some time with The Gaslight Anthem, whose 2012 LP, Handwritten, is one of my favorites of the year. We spent some time this summer for the first time in years at the Jersey Shore, and it was the perfect soundtrack for driving around there. AND PLAYING IT LOUD. What continually astounds me about it is how I can both look back and ahead with the music. There are a lot of allusions to records (the song 45 likens recovering after a breakup to turning a record over), the radio, and the love of music - especially in the moving video for this song.
This song and the above quote makes me think back on the lonely, awkward years and the pain inherent in feeling those feelings so intensely and passionately. The song is a love letter to the days of handwritten notes and letters - and does it without necessarily knocking or commenting on technology (like Arcade Fire’s tune “We Used To Wait”).
As we move forward with planning a wedding, though, there’s another line in the song that turns me around and has me looking forward with immense positivity.
"And with this pen, I thee wed
from my heart to your distress…”
At first glance it might seem sad because of the “distress,” but to me the connection of heart to distress means that said distress is getting addressed by the ceremony at hand.* These things may or may not be intended by The Gaslight Anthem, but when it comes to lyrics… they’re always in the ears of the beholder. These are a few reasons why I love The Gaslight Anthem and especially their current LP.
(*Note: I’m not saying my fiancée is in any distress, it’s just a line I like in a song!)