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Music for the underdog.

March 1, 2010

I am told on a regular basis, “S you listen to some strange shit.”

Ok my name isn’t S, and most people usually say “What in the world are you playing now?”

I never know exactly what to say. It’s true I do listen to a pretty strange variety of music. I can be caught listening to Voivod one day. Tom Waits the next. And then maybe I will have something like Corb Lund playing another time (Five Dollar Bill is a kick ass song. Do yourself a favor and listen to it.)

I have never really thought that what I listened to had much of a theme. It was just whatever caught my fancy that week, month, year.

Today, however, it struck me. I do have a theme for everything I truly enjoy. The stuff I listen to the most is all about the underdog in some way. From the material, to the band and even the genre, I root for the loser.

Let’s give a couple of examples here.

Tom Waits.

Songs about lonely drunks, not so lonely drunks. People trapped in a life they hate, or people that have escaped a life they hate. Ever song tells a story of someone sinking, at, or rising from the bottom. So let’s grab a line from a great song of his, Fumblin’ with the blues.

Well now fallin’ in love is such a breeze
But its standin’ up that’s so hard for me
I wanna squeeze you but i’m scared to death i’d break your back
You know your perfume
Well it won’t let me be

Dave Alvin

Here is someone you might not know. But he penned a couple of all time favorites. 4th of July, that song made famous by X. Abilene and California Snow. So let’s grab a line from 4th of July.

On the lost side of town
in a dark apartment
we gave up trying so long ago

Yep, there is a guy on the downward swing of luck.

So can we find some other examples?

Well I dig Lyle Lovett. Talk about rooting for the underdog. I mean here is a guy that’s only real claim to fame is the fact that he got to root Julia Roberts for all of three weeks.

And then let’s talk about all the Alt. Country I listen to. An entire underdog genre. No one actually wants to admit they listen to that. Or anyone with any good sense. That’s why I admit to it. I have no good sense.

Then you have the band the Handsome Family. A name created out of sarcasm, and a band that became well known for the album written about the singer’s experiences of his nervous breakdown. Underdog? I think so.

Should we hit some contemporaries?

Matthew Sweet. Always writing songs about being all love sick and shit. His last actual hit was sometime in 1994. But he keeps chugging away at it.

Suicidal Tendencies. Need I say more?

I can keep going on. But I am tired of typing. I do it all day long, I don’t really feel like it after work.

Needless to say I think the best music comes from people that either praise the underdog, or may be underdogs themselves. They write about or live something that we all understand. What its like to be at the bottom, scratching and crawling your way out of the hole.

So support the underdog. Because you never know when you may be one yourself.

And because I need to leave you with something, here Corb Lund, 5 Dollar Bill.

Or how about Hard On Equipment?

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