Monday, August 28, 2023

This Year: 2004

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more.

Any list like this will have some gimmies - the ones you know from the beginning have to be included. This was one of them, maybe even the first song I thought of. 2004 was locked down from the beginning.

It could only have ever been Hooplas Involving Circus Tricks by Say Hi, the perfect droning epic of life on the road and life in general. I've loved this song from almost the moment I heard it, and I don't think I can tell you exactly why. Maybe because it has that great, unique sound; maybe the way it implies so much more than it says; maybe it just comes together, all of those pieces, in the way a great song has to.

It's loaded with references when the mime speaks about the biz
We asked him for a glass that might be clean
But he's too busy posing for fashion 'zines

Every band who lasts long enough has at least one "this is what it's like on the road" song - most of them are fairly straightforward. Say Hi - which is mostly just one guy, Eric Elbogen - is not straightforward. Hooplas instead is mostly a metaphor, or a series of interlocking metaphors, with circuses and mimes - but we know what he means.

Hooplas involving circus tricks
At addresses way out in the sticks

It's that feeling of waiting for something - in this case, for the show to start, for the point of the whole trip. The band is getting ready, people are telling each other dull stories. You can't hurry it. It will happen when it happens. But you have to get through the time before. The song has that timeless, endless feeling, anticipating and prefiguring, like a wave that never strikes land.

It's crowded, and we're bored.

And what do they find to do and think and talk about and obsess about while they wait? Well, what do young men ever think about?

The pixies in tight green little skirts say it's so much better now that it hurts

I still don't know what that means, if it's profound or just a good rhyme. Maybe it was an overheard line - I can see someone saying "it's so much better now that it hurts" randomly.

And I keep coming back to the sound of it: that electronic drone to keep the beat, the rock guitar that pops in and out for big moments, the singer's almost-whispering, understated voice. This is another song, like so many, that sounds its best as loud as you can stand, that wraps around you and envelops you for the space of four awesome minutes.

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