Sammy the Seal

“One drop of blood on immaculate Keds”

In vinyl on Wednesday, 27 July, 2011 at 11:50

Song: One for the Cutters
Artist: The Hold Steady
Album: Stay Positive

So, who in their right mind doesn‘t love some good harpsichord? Highly underrated song this is (by me, anyway). Following the opening two-headed behemoth of  “Constructive Summer” and “Sequestered in Memphis”, it can be a little jarring to hear such life-affirming, monstrous rock followed by delicate harpsichord, but change of pace is always a good thing. It’s not totally rockin’ like most of The Hold Steady’s best stuff, but this is still quintessential HS: strong songwriting and pinpoint storytelling, with touches of grandeur and epic-ness. The minor key of the song does a nice job underscoring the seediness of the story, and make no mistake: despite the harpsichord, this is definitely a rock song. If you follow the lyrics, it seems like a simple enough story, but those surges of guitar that peek out at the end of the each verse hint to you at something deeper, and as they become more prominent later in the song, they carve out the wider, deeper spaces for the revelations of the story to take place in.

Granted, I have no idea about the lifestyle in the song, but it’s still a compelling story. It’s been nice to get re-acquainted with you, song. It’s been a while.
When there weren’t any parties, she’d park by the quarry,
walk into the woods until she came to a clearing
where townies would gather and drink until blackout,
smoke cigs until they’re sick, pack bowls, and then pass out
Windows wide open to let the hard rock in
Theirs was a rage that didn’t need much convincing
The girls gave her glares, but the boys were quite pleasant
To be totally honest, they didn’t seem much different

When there weren’t any parties, sometimes she’d party with townies

Out on the parkways, after the parties,
it was always arousing when they’d rev up their engines
It’s hard to describe, so she kept it a secret
The girls that she lived with, they knew nothing about it
The night with the fight and the butterfly knife
was the first night she spent with that one guy she liked
She gave him a ride to some kid’s house in Cleveland,
he stayed there for two weeks, the cops finally found him

He didn’t seem that different, except for the blood on his jacket
He didn’t seem that different, except for maybe his haircut
He didn’t seem much different
They didn’t seem that different up,
until this one little incident
They didn’t seem much different

Now the cops want to question everyone present
They parade every townie in town through the station
But no one says nothing, and they can’t find the weapon
The girl takes the stand, and she swears she was with him
Her father’s lawyers do most of the talking

She’s sick of the questions, sick of the concept of justice and fairness
“Who the hell cares who gets caught in the middle?”
She smokes and she ponders this riddle:
When one townie falls in the forest, can anyone hear it?
When one townie falls
When one townie falls in the forest, does anyone notice?

One drop of blood on immaculate Keds
Mom, do you know where your girl is?
Sophomore accomplice in a turtleneck sweater
Dad, do you know where your kids are?
Sniffing at crystal in cute little cars,
getting nailed against dumpsters behind townie bars
It’s a cute little town, boutiques and cafes
Her friends all seemed nice, she was getting good grades,
but when she came home for Christmas, she just seemed distant and different

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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

%d bloggers like this: