Sunday, November 16, 2014

Song of the Day: Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American (2001)

Yesterday I wrote about Kiss, and talked about how music like that, with the heavy riffs and rawk attitude, will always appeal to people, and that I'm sometimes even included in that group. That's still true (just 24 hours later!), but when I want rawk that gets my whole body feeling the power, I'm much more likely to listen to something like this than I am to Kiss. "Bleed American" has a power to it that can hardly be described in words, like the band is rocking to save lives, and every decibel matters. 

I vaguely knew Jimmy Eat World back in their heyday, and of course I had heard "The Middle," which was a huge hit, but I mostly stayed away from them and the whole "emo" scene (with Weezer being the major exception). I only finally bought this album earlier this year, after Andy Greenwald, a Grantland writer I really like, kept referring to it as a masterpiece. I love Greenwald's taste and the way he thinks about culture, so that accolade was enough to make me seek out the album, and I'm glad I did. 

Greenwald also wrote the essay in the album's new deluxe edition, and he notes that every song is about "fighting apathy, about refusing to sit still." The whole album is "about being in love with love, music and life itself, about the things that save us when we can't save ourselves, and about how even if it takes some time, everything--everything!--will be just fine." Those emotions are absolutely contagious and exploding out of this song, which is ostensibly an anti-drug statement of defiance, but is also the album's opening track, title song, and therefore tone-setter. Sonically it sounds like the Foo Fighters at their best/fastest/loudest, but emotionally it sounds more passionate than anything the Foo Fighters have ever unleashed. 

The older I get, the less frequently I tend to be in the mood for music like this, but there are a handful of songs that sort of defy that aging of my tastes, and this is one of them. I can listen to this anytime, all the time, feel the power, bang my head, and then probably start the track right over as soon as it's done.

This was originally written and posted on Facebook on June 11, 2014

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