...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Hold Steady / Stay Positive: "Let's clutch and kiss and sing and shake, tonight let's try to levitate"

"Back then it was beautiful
The boys were sweet and musical
The laser lights looked mystical
. . . Messed up still felt magical"

The more I listen to The Hold Steady, the more I think they might have what it takes to save rock & roll from crushing heartlessness, unoriginal pallor, and detached apathy. You might have noticed that people tend to fall diametrically on one side or the other of the Hold Steady spectrum. My friend Barber once described lead singer Craig Finn as "a crazy inebriated prophet, ear tuned to the roar, shouting out real-life scripture over the ocean of noise of society or a really loud bar band." Yet I have other friends who violently object to the whole concept whenever I broach it. The Hold Steady must be something you either get --and get hard-- or don't. On this new album especially, I find it difficult to understand the latter.

On their fourth studio album Stay Positive (which drops in physical form July 15th) these five guys from Minneapolis stretch their songwriting out down new roads, and as always everything feels pretty epic and massive. Pressed up against gorgeously grand and subversively hopeful songs, Finn weaves complex stories of lust and confusion, of cutting and car crashes, of oracles and angels.

You can get an accurate impression of the feelings contained on Stay Positive from the cover and superb inner album art. Despite the muddy ground and the nauseatingly yellow sky with all the color bled out, there is always the potential for something exciting to happen tonight, for some urgency to swoop down and make you feel alive for forty-five minutes. The feeling of continuity that connects all of the Hold Steady's albums is present here, through serial characters like Holly --who has been in the hospital, shaky but still trying to shake it, and now the girl who won't say hi to him-- and also through recurrent themes that perennially crop up to make a Hold Steady song what it is. The landscape is desolate, but the kids in the songs still yearn.

Stay Positive is also their album of bleeding and miracles -- a fitting dichotomy for a band that plumbs both the gritty violent parts of our psyche as well as the redemption. On one of the album's strongest tracks, Finn calls a girl named Sapphire (who possesses some hallucinogenic visionary abilities) and begs, "I know you said don't call until I'm clean . . . but I'm not drunk, I'm cut. I'm gushing blood, and I need someone to come and pick me up." I find something in the desperation of how Finn wrenches and pleads out that line that reverberates throughout the album. There's talk of crucifixion, visions, and miracles, and later he sings "Don't mention bloodshed, don't tell them it hurts, don't say we saw angels, they'll take us straight to the church." Make no mistake, this is an album of the mud and the blood and the beer, but along with that comes some old-fashioned revival-style hallelujah.

Musically, Stay Positive is as richly dense as anything they've done. I always find a sort of deliverance in the crashing piano cadences and expansive guitar solos of the Hold Steady, even as the lyrics detail another sad night, another desperate move. J Mascis guests stars (playing banjo on "Both Crosses"), as do Ben Nichols of Lucero and Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers (on backing vocals in a few songs). This is an album I am obviously enjoying immensely through the throes of this sweltering summer.

LISTEN: Sequestered In Memphis & Lord I'm Discouraged (stream)

NEW CONTEST: Thanks to the good folks at Vagrant, I have Hold Steady largess to scatter upon ye lucky masses like manna from the heavens.

Three lucky winners will win the Stay Positive CD (with the 3 bonus tracks on it, I think) and two of you will be spinning the black circle with the vinyl LP. The vinyl is 160 gram (black color), gatefold, and will feature one bonus track “Ask Her For The Adderall.”

Please leave me a comment indicating which format you are entering for, and since there are so many good ones to choose from, let's talk about favorite Hold Steady lyrics.

Walk away with these lines from the new album -- they leave you with that ache:

"Girls didn't seem so difficult
Boys didn't seem so typical

It was all warm and white and wonderful

We were all invincible

We were wasps with new wings

Now we're bugs in the jar
We were hot soft and pure

Now we're scratched up in scars.

POSTSCRIPT OF OLD CONTEST BUSINESS: The Joe Strummer prize pack garnered some of the very best comments yet left on Fuel/Friends. From lighting Joe's cigarette (a tale I verified with the cool commenter - oh, to have a lighter just when Joe Strummer fumbles for one outside a Vegas hotel) to talking to him backstage, wracked with nervous anticipation, you gotta go read all the great tales. Because I'm soft, I went with a randomly-selected winner: James from Brooklyn. Congrats! Let me know where to send it.

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At July 10, 2008 12:52 AM, Blogger Andrew Newby said...

Vinyl please!

I've always been fond of:

"it started recreational
it ended kinda medical
it came on hot and soft and then
it tightened up its tentacles
the band played screaming for vengance
and we agreed. this world is mostly manacled.
it started ice cream social nice
it ended up all white and ecumenical"

At July 10, 2008 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holly, so messed up!

'She was limping left on broken heels, and she said Father,
Can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels'


Or the whole of First Night.

Or Corey, who was into hard core. They called him Hard Corey.

Or Citrus! 'i've had kisses that made Judas seem sincere'

Ah there's too many to chose from....sorry....

At July 10, 2008 3:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I know I'm no angel
I ain't been bad that way
Can't you hear her?
She's that sweet missing songbird
When the choir sings on Sundays
And I'm almost busted
But I bought back the jewellery she sold"

Ahh, those lyrics from "Lord, I'm Discouraged" are seriously beautiful.
The first two lines sound as if the character is talking to herself, and the other lines are an observation on the character.

The observing character has still got her back, buying back the jewelery she sold. Maybe she's ready to give up.

These lyrics really show how amazingly poetic the singer is. There's alot of depth but with most importantly, a potentially decypherable story.

Vinyl please :)

At July 10, 2008 3:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always loved the Brief Encounter-style lover story that is 'Chillout Tent'. Makes me feel warm yet slightly sad inside...

"She looked just like a baby bird, all new and wet and trying to light a Parliament,
He quoted her some poetry, he's Tennyson in denim and sheepskin.
He looked a lot like Izzy Stradlin..."

"She seemed pretty cool, we kinda kicked it in the chillout tent,
and I never saw that girl again."

So simple, so effective.

Oh, and CD please, if poss :-)

At July 10, 2008 5:55 AM, Blogger Red Wine Sunday said...

Vinyl please - the pop and crackle is what I live for and fits this record perfectly.

From "Certain Songs"

she goes low on the seats when she gets high in her car.
she looks shallow but shes neck deep in the steamy dreams of the guys along the harbor bars.
she's pulling out her shirttails and jacking up her socks.
stern and stoned and confident, coming up towards the jukebox.
born into the only songs that everybody finally sings along.

b-1 is for the good girls.
it's only the good die young.

c-9 is for the making eyes.
it's paradise by the dashboard light.

d4 is for the lovers.

b12 is for the speeders.

and the hard drugs are for the bartenders and the kitchen workers and the bartender's friends.
and they're playing it again. ellen foley gives us hope.

certain songs they get scratched into our souls.

That last line kills me everytime.


At July 10, 2008 6:16 AM, Blogger Stephen Thomas said...

'Lost in love and fog and faith was fear / I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere' - Citrus.

I shall be entering for the CD, because everyone else wants vinyl, and I'm too poor to afford either, so I'm not too fussed! Huzzah!

At July 10, 2008 6:17 AM, Blogger Joe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At July 10, 2008 6:19 AM, Blogger Joe said...


You can wear his old sweatshirt
You can cover yourself like a bruise.

At July 10, 2008 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She said always remember never to trust me. she said that the first night she met me. she said there's gonna be a time when i'm gonna have to go with whoever's gonna get me the highest.

Great lyrics from a geat band. If they can lift me from the glom of a shitty day at work in London then they are GREAT!

Oh yeah - CD please if I am fourtunate enogh to win ;-)

At July 10, 2008 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your site, I visit regularly and always find stuff of interest, wether artists I know and love or new music.

I'm sending this e-mail as entry for your HOLD STEADY competition, preferably CD, but vinyl would be cool too. Can't wait to hear the new album.

The Hold Steady are probably my favourite band at the moment and I reckon the most interesting and exciting group to come to prominence in the last 5 years. Like Springsteen, I feel that they really come into their own when playing live - I was fortunate enough to see them last Sunday (6th July) in a smallish tent at the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, London and they were absolutely awesome - loud, raucous, good time rock'n'roll.

Greetings from the UK, keep up the good work

At July 10, 2008 7:23 AM, Blogger J_Schooly said...

I would be one of the latter, one of the non-believers. But I remain open to the possibility of The Hold Steady, I just haven't heard enough of them, so I would love a copy of the CD.

And I love your site, too. Check it every day.

At July 10, 2008 7:25 AM, Blogger Murph said...

I would like to be entered to win the vinyl please.

Seeing the Hold Steady at Slim's in SF one of my favorite concerts ever, these guys know how to put on a live show!

"She said always remember never to trust me. she said that the first night she met me. she said there's gonna be a time when i'm gonna have to go with whoever's gonna get me the highest."


At July 10, 2008 7:30 AM, Blogger JC said...

CD please...

From their tune Positive Jam. I love it when a band puts there name in a song....

"all the sniffling indie kids. hold steady.
all the clustered up clever kids. hold steady.
i got bored when i didn't have a band. so i started a band.
we're gonna start it with a positive jam. hold steady".

At July 10, 2008 7:59 AM, Blogger T James said...

I was introduced to this band with Your Little Hood Rat Friend:

"...it burns being broke
and it hurts to be heartbroken
but always being both
must be a drag..."

Who can't relate to that?

I like lyrics that kick you in the gut and hit right where you live.

Look forward to the new cd.
I am a cd user

At July 10, 2008 8:05 AM, Blogger tumbling upwards said...

i'd have chosen certain nichts as well, but then there's also this here from stevie nicks which gives an example of such a night (and those days it was like that)

you came into the party with a long black shawl. and the guys from the front lawn were making jokes about the white swan. some nites we just need to get touched and rub right up against something plush. some nites it's just a crush and some nites it's bloodlust.

if you like them - i'd take a cd, please

At July 10, 2008 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She said my name's Steve Perry, baby, people call me Circuit City. I'm so well connected..."


At July 10, 2008 8:30 AM, Blogger Little Dynamite said...

CD please! I love Craig Finn so much I followed his geographical path: born and raised in Minneapolis, off to Boston College and then moved to NYC...

I love hearing all his Minneapolis references - I feel like I'm walking around town back home whenever I listen to a song...but my favorite lyrics refer to the IDS building's Crystal Court where my dad used to work and my favorite bridge in the city where we always watch 4th of July fireworks from with a huge Grain Belt (old local beer) sign at the end on the east side of the Mississippi downtown - the way he sings it just makes me feel proud to be a Minnesotan!

"I came back to start a band, of course
I saw her walking through the Crystal Court
She made a scene by the revolving doors
She's gonna walk around and drink some more
So i walked across that Grain Belt Bridge
In a brand new Minneapolis"

And his "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with a major Twins twist is just too much to handle...

"Take me out to that Twins game
Take me out to that Dome
Hey Minneapolis, hey St. Paul
We don't even care when we don't get the call
'Cause it's root, root, root for the Minnesota Twins
And it's always a shame when the Twins don't win
And it's one, and it's two, and it's three strikes you're out
At that Twins ballgame"

At July 10, 2008 8:30 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"Back then it was unified
The punks, the skins, the greaser guys
Then one summer, two kids died
And one of them was crucified
Now it's so competitive
The sleeplessness and sedatives
I know it sounds repetitive"

brilliant and probably the greatest bridge on the record. feels like an airplane filled w/ people screaming going down for a horrible crash but ends up gliding in on pillows and the silence that surrounds afterward. I've been through the record just about 15 times and it truly gets better each listen. Every time i hear something different, something genius, and something inspiring. This is the best dirty rock band i've heard in last 5 to 10 years. I haven't heard a record that requires active listening, air drumming, irish car bombs and singing your heart out, since..........well, their last.

would love the cd since it has the 3 extra tracks!

At July 10, 2008 8:35 AM, Blogger Brendan said...

I really dig IAF,YAF. Perhaps you'd like to see a thing we did at NH a few weeks ago...


At July 10, 2008 8:57 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'll take the CD, if you're so inclined.

My personal favorite's from "Chillout Tent":

"She looked just like a baby bird, all new and wet and trying to light a Parliament
He quoted her some poetry, he's Tennyson in denim and sheepskin
He looked a lot like Izzy Stradlin
They started kissing when the nurses took off their IVs
It was kinda sexy, but it was kinda creepy
Their mouths were fizzy with the cherry cola
They had the privacy of bedsheets
And all the other kids were mostly in comas."

Demented, drug-addled wasted-youth-on-Springsteen imagery at its finest. Runner-up would be the line earlier in the song, "He'd been to jail, but never prison," which is one of the best one-line character summations I've ever heard or read.

At July 10, 2008 9:20 AM, Blogger Sometimes I swear the melodrama will destroy me........ said...

I love the humour he throws into his lyrics :

"we didn't go to Dallas. 'cause Jackie Onassis said that it ain't safe for Catholics yet. think about what they pulled on Kennedy. and then think about his security. then think about what they might try to pull on you and me."


The thing I love about Craigs lyrics are the continual stories about Charlemagne, about Minneapolis, about Jesus and Judas and how the world is unfair, but mostly the heartbreak that is Holly's story.

Everytime I read his lyrics I feel like Holly should have been saved.

Its hard to find a favourite,

The "Sniffing on crystal in cute little cars" ending to one for the cutters or the entirety of How a resurrection really feels. "she said i've laid beneath my lovers but i've never gotten laid. some nights she felt protected. some nights she felt afraid. "

But I think really, the heartbreak, the crux to the whole story is in First night. The line "she slept like she'd never been scared." kills me every time.

The destruction that is addiction:

"holly's insatiable.
she still looks incredible.
but she don't look like the same girl we met.
on that first night.

she was golden with barlight and beer.
she slept like she'd never been scared.

and then last night
she said words alone never could save us.
and then last night
she cried when she told us about jesus.

holly's inconsolable
unhinged and uncontrollable.
because we can't get as high as we got
on that first night."

Sorry for how long this post is, I just really love this band and get a bit "ranty" when i'm passionate.


At July 10, 2008 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vinyl please! The Sequestered in Memphis 7" is gorgeous and wants its big brother :)

I suspect sometimes that "Banging Camp" sums up my life a little too closely (see this photo in support of my entry, haha) - particularly for the line:

She says I dig these awkward silences, 'cause I grew up in denial.

This band means everything to me, and came to do so at a time I thought I was too old and too cynical to fall for it again.

At July 10, 2008 9:50 AM, Blogger Brendan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At July 10, 2008 9:51 AM, Blogger halifax66 said...

CD for me please!

I still think that the quite bit in knuckles is just one of those things that when I heard the first album just made me stop short

"I've been trying to get people to call me Sunny D
Cos I've got the good stuff that kids go for
People keep calling me five alive

Because the last guy didn't really die... I just lied
And the first four didn't really die... I just lied
Too many kids are getting stabbed
Getting tangled up in crabs"

At July 10, 2008 9:52 AM, Blogger Brendan said...

Vinyl, Please.

...I met my girlfriend at a Hold Steady show in Milwaukee, by chance. She's from Minneapolis and I'm from Chicago. She was wearing a homemade LFTR PLLR shirt. (I'm serious!) We take turns visiting each other about every other week. The song that immediately comes to mind is definately the lyrics from "Sweet Payne".....

"I always dream about a unified scene.
There's james king and king james and james dean.
At a table in the corner of my unified scene.
They want a double order of love and respect.
They said they just got back from up in hostile, massachussetts.
Girl I've seen your friend.
She looks nothing like jada pinkett.
I think you got something in those cigarettes."

The concept of the Unified Scene is something really cool - everyone's included, no one's excluded whatsoever. I feel like I'm a part of that.

The last three lines of that song remind me how our relationship began and it's something cool (and hilarious) we can both share.

Excellent song and has a really good memory attached to it.

At July 10, 2008 10:17 AM, Blogger gorjus said...

Vinyl, please!

"When they kiss they spit white noise." Just the entirety of that friction and passion and fear and wonder that goes along with really wonderful and desperate making out.

At July 10, 2008 11:16 AM, Blogger Dustin C. said...

I'm good either way, but I do love vinyl... : )

Fave lyric so far is:

She said that she was coming but she wasn't, just make hard facts noises/ It kind of sounded like a locus/ Guys go for looks, girls go for status

I love it... heard it on the ATHF Movie soundtrack and have been hooked ever since... I've been meaning to get more of their stuff, so this is great way to start!

At July 10, 2008 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gymnasium of the Sacred Heart

Two boys, wearing track jackets,
with shaved heads and smooth hands,
are breathing Pine-Sol out of
a plastic bag and breaking
into a car with coat hangers.
Sad, thin skinned kids with flammable
names and feathers for lungs.
Who tape their regrets to the top of the Atari.
Who write out their girlfriends’ names in gasoline.
Who take a match to the front yard.
Who raid the liquor cabinet and rob a liquor store
before cutting a path through police tape
to get to a tall, cool, catholic school gym.
From the bleachers they stand as if to say
I sing for the canary gassed beyond belief
in the basement of the biology building.
I scream City of love! City by the river!
Don’t disown your skinny fisted sons
locked inside the locker room.
They too are the father of you.
They too are made mostly of noise.
The holiest of headaches has begun to flower
behind their eyes, and their fingers,
they are twitching like a clinic in the winter.

I think the internet is gonna fuck up my line breaks.

...that being said, I always loved:
"Tramps like us, and we like tramps."

& I would love the vinyl.

At July 10, 2008 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It started when were dancing,
It got heavy when we got to the bathroom.
We didn't go back to her place,
We went to some place where she catsits.
She said "I know I look tired, but everything's fried here in Memphis."

"Sequestered in Memphis"

Sounds like a really weird outtake from The River, what might have happened if Bruce had taken a knife and really twisted it around inside the lyrics to "Sherry Darling" and "Hungry Heart."

I would love the cd, please.

At July 10, 2008 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love Craig Finna and the boys. Saw them at Maxwells in Hoboken. Amazing...

CD ? Please?

Doug from HOBOKEN

At July 10, 2008 3:36 PM, Blogger wallrock said...

My favorite has got to be:

"Nelson Algren came to Paddy at some party at the Dead End Alley. He told him what to celebrate." from "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night."

This is referencing my favorite song by my favorite punk band, Dillinger Four, who are also Twin Cities-based. Paddy is the bassist. The song's "Doublewhiskeycokenoice" and the referenced lyric is, "Nelson Algren came to me, and said celebrate the ugly things, the beat up side of what they call pride, could be the measure of these days." I heard this and completely geeked out - it didn't take much more to elevate the Hold Steady to a favorite but this certainly fast-tracked it.

I'd put my hat in the vinyl ring. I am counting the days until next Tuesday, because I absolutely have to have the CD on that day in order to properly prepare for the show on 21st - yay Madison!

At July 10, 2008 4:23 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

i guess i heard about original sin. i heard the dude blamed the chick. i heard the chick blamed the snake. i heard they were naked when they got busted. i heard things ain't been the same since.


At July 10, 2008 4:24 PM, Blogger The Blot said...

Please enter me in the running for a Stay Positive cd!

I'm going to keep it simple and go with this part of Chips Ahoy! as my favorite lyrics from The Hold Steady:

She put $900 on the fifth horse in the sixth race.

I think its name is "Chips Ahoy!"

It came in six lengths ahead.

We spent the whole next week getting high.

- The Blot

At July 10, 2008 5:35 PM, Blogger Sammy said...

I would love to enter for the vinyl. Thanks.

I think my favourite lyrics would be from You gotta dance (with who you came to the dance with)

"you gotta go with what got you there. i came with chipped teeth and some bleached blonde hair.
you gotta make due with what they gave to you. they took ten bux and my tennis shoes."

Because no matter what obstacles, how small or big, you gotta make du e with what you have and make the most out of whatever shitty situation you might find yourself in. Dance with who you came with.

At July 10, 2008 5:55 PM, Blogger courtney said...

Registering for the vinyl:

the priest just kinda laughed,
the deacon cut a draft,
she crashed into the Easter Mass with her hair done up in broken glass.
she was limpin' left on broken heels, and she said,
"Father, can I tell your congregation how a resurrection REALLY feels?"
Holly was a hood rat
and now you finally know that,
and she's been disappearing for years.
Today she finally came back.

At July 10, 2008 6:10 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

cd please

"Tramps Like Us And We Like Tramps"

short but very sweet

At July 10, 2008 6:42 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Vinyl Rules!!!

I have two favorites:

you don't have to go to the right kind of schools
let your boyfriend come from the right kind of schools.
you can wear his old sweatshirt.
you can cover yourself like a bruise.

she said "you're pretty good with words but words won't save your life"
and they didn't so he died.

At July 10, 2008 7:16 PM, Blogger John said...

viva la vinyl!

"I shouldn't have gone down there but it was too late to switch. You gotta dance with who you came with."

I think this pretty much describes any bad situation that you have to stick out in life. It seems to happen more often than most of us like...this song always remind you that you're not alone in the world thinking that something sucks!

At July 10, 2008 7:46 PM, Blogger Justin Steiner said...

I'd be interested in the CD.

The band has so many good lyrics and tons of them have been mentioned. Here's some from my favorite song of theirs, "Cattle and the Creeping Things"...

"She's got a cross around her neck
that she ripped off from a schoolgirl on a subway on a visit to the city

She likes how it looks on her chest with three open buttons

She likes the part where one brother kills the other

She has to wonder whether if world ever will recover because Cain and Abel still seem to be causing trouble"

At July 10, 2008 8:46 PM, Blogger  - Allan - said...

Vinyl please

From Citrus -

Hey bar roommate tavern
I find hope in all the souls you gather
Hey citrus, hey liquor
I love it when we come together

At July 10, 2008 9:09 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Always like these verses from "The Swish" on "Almost Killed Me"

Shoes and socks
baby socks and shoes
we spent the night last night in Newport News

This chick she looked just like Elizabeth Shue
We got bruised...

She said my name's Steve Perry
baby people call me Circuit City
I'm so well connected my UPC is dialed into the system

I also love:

"She says I kinda dig those awkward silences
Because I grew up in denial and went to school in Massachusetts
And he said hi,
I like to party on the problem blocks
And I can't stand it when the banging stops"

from "Banging Camp" on "Separation Sunday"

But take your pick...their lyrics are always the best. Enjoy your blog as always. Would love the CD, but plan on buying it regardless. Thanks!

At July 11, 2008 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love a CD

and I can make you like me!

At July 11, 2008 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! Nice review! Am entering for the vinyl :)

My favourite lyric from THS ever is from Stay Positive. The end of Lord I'm Discouraged:

"I know it's unlikely she'll ever be mine,
So I mostly just pray she don't die"

It's my fav because it stands alone as a great line, but the real reason I love it as much as I do is because of the impact it has at this point in the back catalogue.

(I don't know if I'll express this very well but...) What I mean is, after everything that we know has happened to Holly, everything she has done, everything that has been done to her, and everything that the narrator has been through with her, it strikes me as a very powerful line - it's not a happy ending (and I'm sure it's not the end anyway), but it is an incredibley honest and raw expression of how he feels for her. It shows how much it hurts him to see her hurt, but also that he feels that pain in a totally selfless and heart wrenching way.

Basically I think it's just a stunning reflection of the fact that you can't choose who you care that deeply about. I think I'm rambling quite badly but I hope I sort of made sense!

Oh yeah and it doesn't hurt that it's preceded by an epic guitar solo!!

At July 11, 2008 12:27 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Sweet review. Could I please be entered for the vinyl.

"She got screwed up by religion.
She got screwed by soccer players.
She got high for the first time in the camps down by the banks of the mississippi river.
Lord to be seventeen forever.
She got confused about the truth.
She came to in a confession.
She got high for the last time in the camps down by the banks of the river.
Lord to be 33 forever.
She got screwed up by her vision.
It was scary when she saw him.
She didn't tell a single person about the camps on the banks of the mississippi river.
Lord to be seventeen forever.
She got strung out the scene.
She got scared when it got druggy.
The way the whispers bit like fangs in the last hour of the parties.
Lord to be 33 forever."

I hang out at those camps so when I first heard this I was like whoa.

At July 11, 2008 1:46 PM, Blogger sean broom said...

Wow-- so many options.

"I feel jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers.
I feel judas in the long odds of the rackets on the corners.
I feel jesus in the tenderness of honest nervous lovers."

"and then last night
she said words alone never could save us.
and then last night
she cried when she told us about jesus."
--First Night

The story behind (and the face melting guitar solo within) Lord I'm Discouraged is also riveting.

On the first one doesn't it just remind you of those awkward first kisses? The hope and the potential -- and yes-- the salvation that you can dredge up in youthful love. Attraction without preconditions and arguments. The first fumbling attempts at connecting, at intimacy with another person. Shit-- I've got goosebumps thinking about my first time.

Right-- and I'd like the cd.


At July 11, 2008 4:56 PM, Blogger James said...

CD por favor -

Although there are many many great ones, my favorite lyrics are probably the "kissing" lines scattered around B&GIA:

"These twin city kisses sound like clicks and hisses"

"same kooks can't come but they sure do kiss, making love to the girls with the wrapped up wrists"

"don't even speak to all those sequencer and beat boys - when they kiss they spit white noise"

"i'm pretty sure we kissed"

"they started kissin when the nurses took off their IV's - it was kinda sexy but it was kinda creepy"

And maybe the best of the bunch:

"i've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere"

If Stay Positive is about bleeding and miracles, then Boys & Girls was about reckless youth - and what's better about being young than the excitement of first kisses?

At July 11, 2008 7:54 PM, Blogger Sara said...

"arms and hearts and alcohol and faith, we pull each other in and then we push it all away"

that's my favorite lyric.

and you're right. Hold Steady are one of those bands that, if you get them, you get them hard. and i so so so do.

cd, please :)

At July 11, 2008 10:00 PM, Blogger Andy La Raygun said...

..."lost in faith and love and hope and fear--I've had kisses that make Judas seems sincere..."
Are you listening, sweetheart?
Oh, man, who hasn't?

Great write up, Heather.
I would prefer a CD copy...

At July 11, 2008 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like a copy of the cd if you decide to throw one my way! Love your blog!

I don't know much about The Hold Steady outside of "Stuck Between Stations", which I think is a helluva a rockin' tune. I haven't gotten around to listening to their other stuff.

My favorite lyrics would be
"He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration."
"We drink, we dry up, we crumble into dust."

At July 12, 2008 7:51 AM, Blogger bobgoatcheese said...

I don't want a prize I'm looking forward to buying the cd on the 15th and sitting in the parking lot of the store listening to it, booklet in my fingers. However, thank you for the passion that you would into this. I get that they are a "love them" or "I don't get it" band, that I do "get it" has brought so much happiness and adrenaline to me in the last few years. To paraphrase Jon Landau they are the history of rock and roll, Long live The Hold Steady.

At July 12, 2008 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We're all The Hold Steady!!" (from the live performances of Killer Parties) This is why we love them.

My favorite band by a mile and a half

vinyl please


At July 12, 2008 7:43 PM, Blogger serena said...

caught the Hold Steady at Lolla last summer... my husband and I stood in the huge crowd and watched them while we held hands and smiled at each other- thrilled with this new discovery. ahhh... the poetic madness.. it was pure bliss. can't imagine they'll ever come down to miami... we're sort of off live music radar it seems.
anyway, if i am chosen, i guess i'll take vinyl...although either would be great :)
"She said always remember never to trust me. she said that the first night she met me. she said there's gonna be a time when i'm gonna have to go with whoever's gonna get me the highest."
thanks heather!

At July 13, 2008 1:32 AM, Blogger Nigel said...

"...because it burns being broke and it hurts to be heartbroken but always being both must be a drag."
Your Little Hoodrat Friend was the first Hold Steady song I ever heard, and I was hooked. Thanks kexp.org, cuz I'm pretty sure Clear Channel don't play Hold Steady.

A CD would be cool, if I'm so lucky.

At July 13, 2008 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After listening to the Hold Steady for years and getting to a point where it seems like I know the characters about whom Finn is singing, I really like this lyric:

The priest just kinda laughed.
The deacon caught a draft.
She crashed into the Easter Mass with her hair done up in broken glass.
She was limping left on broken heels.
When she said Father can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?

If aI am so lucky, I would like the Vinyl. Thanks

Miles (Denver)

At July 13, 2008 6:19 PM, Blogger Jamoo said...

She's probably gonna tell you
You ain't doing anything right
And then you'll roll your eyes
And then you'll probably fight

Simple, but describes the origins of an argument so well.

At July 13, 2008 6:20 PM, Blogger Jamoo said...

Oh, and vinyl, should I be so lucky.

At July 13, 2008 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn right he'll rise again!

Winning that CD would be legendary.

I remember seeing Craig Finn lecture at Boston College. He seemed pleased when I told him that I'm a priest and have used some Hold Steady lyrics in sermons. Those guys preach the Gospel.

At July 13, 2008 10:49 PM, Blogger lonestarninja said...

VINYL!!!! please...

holly wore a string around her finger. she said it helps her to remember all the nites that we got over. besides, it ties her outfit all together. holly wore a string around her finger.

At July 14, 2008 8:14 AM, Blogger SkyelinePigeon said...

It's not quite the great beauty lyrically that some of the Hold Steady lyrics are, but I've always liked this part from "Arms and Hearts:"

Arms and hearts and alcohol and death
She was awkward and thoughtful and ascending into heaven dripping wet.

Arms and hearts and alcohol and faith
We pull each other in and then we push it all away

I feel like I can relate.

If I win, I'd like the CD format. Thanks for the contest! :)

At July 14, 2008 9:23 PM, Blogger bradro said...

I've always loved the description of the guy from Chillout Tent. You just know immediately exactly who he's talking about.

he was rough around the edges:
he'd been to school, but never finished,
he'd been to jail, but never prison.

CD please!

At July 15, 2008 12:45 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Vinyl, if it please you.

Man, this is a tough one. Before the release of "Stay Positive," and being a writer of sorts myself, I was always partial to the simplistic, "She said, 'You're pretty good with words, but words won't save your life.'

But in the spirit of this new release, I'll go with something off the last track.

"We are the theatre
They are the people
Dressed up to be seated
Looking upwards and dreaming

We're the projectors
We're hosting the screening
We're dust in the spotlights
We're just kinda floating"

As Finn later says, "Man, we make our own movies." Sometimes I imagine all of us walking around on this Earth as individual cameras, taking in what the world has to offer from our own unique perspective. So this song and these lyrics really make me smile.


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