Monday, December 8, 2008

The Gaslight Anthem, "The '59 Sound" (#21)

"The '59 Sound"
(Brian Fallon/Benny Horowitz/Alex Levine/Alex Rosamilla)
The Gaslight Anthem
The '59 Sound

Mostly I'm just angry this song didn't exist back when I needed it in the summer of 2002. I had it bad for this girl I was never going to get (and didn't really want in the grand scheme of things), and I was working the night shift at a hotel in Commerce, Georgia, a job from which I would drive back, 45 minutes, at 3 a.m. I've felt more alone than those nights only once, and that time it wasn't romantic or wistful, only scary. But that summer was a beautiful loneliness, a loneliness made of a strange sort of possibility.

I had just started listening to Bruce Springsteen, even if the only record I had was 1998's Greatest Hits, a strange compilation of hits and also-rans that I nevertheless must have listened to 800 times on those back roads, and I'm sure that I thought of that girl every single time I sang "Thunder Road" at the top of my lungs just to stay awake, chain-smoking Turkish Golds and mainlining coffee. Then I'd sit up for three or four hours in my dump of an apartment, unable to sleep for the heat.

"The '59 Sound" has absolutely nothing in common with the actual music coming out of 1959 except that it, like the songs of the era and like Springsteen between the two, is the music of pure possibility, of loneliness so deeply felt and so deeply romanticized that you know it's only a temporary loneliness and so you can drink it deeply and allow it to live inside of you as you live inside of it. I feel nineteen again when I hear this song, and nineteen for me was, believe me, as thirteen was for the rest of you.

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