Every once in a while I come across songs that just stun me for one reason or another – the lyrics, the melody, the hook. Nine times out of ten, these songs wind up on my ipod, and I listen to them over and over – trying to figure out what makes them special. In this ongoing series, I’ll explore them in depth. All lyrics, songs, etc belong to their respective authors and not to me – please support them by checking out their music and downloading their stuff.
Dawes has a couple of gems that have really lit me up over the years, but this one practically made me pull over and listen the first time I heard it. A really good song gives me goosebumps, and I got those at several points in this song. It just gets so much right.
All Your Favorite Bands
Late night drives and hot french fries and friends around the country
From Charlottesville to good old Santa Fe
In one line, they set the mood and created powerful images. Brilliant. I immediately thought of my touring days with a band, and hanging out at 24 hour diners with friends.
When I think of you, you still got on that hat that says let’s party
I hope that thing is never thrown away
Another solid image, with a strong aftertaste of nostalgia – great followup line.
I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together
This chorus kills. It is perfect. The “life without a chaperone” line is GOLD, and the image of the El Camino is so potent. And then, of course, the benediction of the hook – May All Your Favorite Bands Stay Together. And here’s the brilliance of the song: it pulls off what few manage to do. It’s nostalgic and real without being too maudlin and heavy handed. He’s reliving his teenage years, thinking about this friend, and hitting a lot of the high points that would be relevant and meaningful – freedom, cars, and bands. None of it feels shoehorned in, none of it feels the least bit phony.
Now I’m just waking up and I’m not thinking clearly so don’t quote me
With one eye open I’m writing you this song
Ain’t it funny how some people pop into your head so easily
I haven’t seen you in there for so long
This goes down a well trod path where the singer is simultaneously writing the song and talking to its subject (think Elton John’s “Your Song”). The images are also curiously absent, but by this point everything has been set up so beautifully it almost doesn’t matter. It still furthers the story and gives new information. It ushers us into another powerful chorus and we get another dose of nostalgia and melancholy. Beautiful.
Nostalgia is a powerful tool to have in your writer’s toolkit, provided you use it with skill and finesse. If you could that with top tier lyrics and killer melodies, you may well have yourself a hit.