Hello November and Day Five of The iPod Challenge.
Today’s song is, shock of shocks, another one of my favorites: “Tyler” by the Toadies off 1994’s “Rubberneck” album.
I’m beginning to notice a trend here: so far, all of my songs have been from the 90s. What can I say? It was a great decade for music. My father, however, would disagree.
He claims good music skips a decade. He didn’t much care for the hippie dippie 60s music with their tambourines and doobie smoking, but somehow the 70s were okay with him? Okay, Dad…but then his theory is flawed because he also admits to loving 80s music, then the 90s were too much for him, and then by the time the Aughts rolled around, he was old and reverted back to his beloved music of yesteryear and this weird New Age-y crap with a lot of pan flutes and rain forest sounds.
Oddly, he subscribes to Sirius satellite radio and there’s one station in particular he’s fond of, and that’s Chill. The last time we had an extended road trip together, we listened to this station nearly constantly. I was surprised to find there were some Radiohead and Massive Attack and UNKLE and other bands I was familiar with and like mixed in with his Yanni…although, I confess to really liking the VHS copy of “Yanni: Live at the Acropolis” Dad had. That goofy mustachioed SOB was just a Greek cheeseball of hand flourishes and gestures, but some of his music isn’t that bad. Really.
Getting back to Toadies, not a lot of people are aware of this band or their work. Who the hell are the Toadies? What did they sing? The one song everyone knows, is of course, Possum Kingdom (And I’ll promise you, I will treat you well my sweet angel, so help me, Jesus). Once you mention that song, it’s all, “ohhhh!! Yeah, okay! I love the Toadies!”
While that song is the one that got them noticed, one would submit that Toadies are a one-hit wonder band, and okay, maybe, I guess, I wouldn’t go that far, but technically, I guess that’s true. It was a very, very long time between Rubberneck and their next album, the equally great Hell Below/Stars Above. Eight years, in fact. Why the wait? Well, after the success of Rubberneck, Toadies spend the rest of the 90s touring, and actually were to release an album in 1998, but Interscope Records poo-poo’ed it, so back to the drawing board, fellas (and lady). The band broke up shortly after that. Alternative music fans still weep softly.
Despite the wild fame of “Possum Kingdom,” the album is just lousy with great songs. Lousy with ’em, I say. “Mister Love,” “Away,” and the solid jam “Backslider,” to name a few. But the one that stands out the most is “Tyler.”
It starts out alternating between two guitar notes, back and forth, back and forth until a quick power chord and blast of the bass and drums, followed by brief instrumentals period, then Vanden Lewis breaks in with the reason I love this song so much: And she runs through her days with a smile on her face.
I’m going to get a little personal here, if I may, and explain why I adore this song. You were all waiting for it, anyway.
Back in early 2010 was when I started seeking therapy for depression. I thought maybe talking to a stranger would be beneficial to me. It was kinda-ish. I liked the aspect of talking to someone who was unbiased toward me, that had zero clue to my past, and the only judgement of me they had was based on the questions they asked me. But I ended up using that against them to an extent. While their goal was to help me “discover myself,” I learned quickly to avoid discussing deeply personal aspects of my life by just telling them enough of what they wanted to hear, but never fully revealing myself.
There was one woman, though…this one was good and saw through my attempted bullshit. Imagine how both impressed I was, and how much I then wanted to turn up the stubbornness on her and see if she could break through that barrier, too.
Our first session, she asked me the prerequisite questions about myself, blah dee blee, why am I here? What do you expect to get from counseling? Are you going to finish that? (that last one was a joke. I’m funny!)
Here I am, telling her about my past, which hasn’t been all sunshine and puppies, and after I got done giving her the Spark’s Notes version of things, I sat there in my chair and gave her a Cheshire Cat grin. She looked at me quizzically, tilted her head, and asked me, “why are you smiling? You just told me some pretty terrible things.” “If I don’t smile, I’ll cry.” And she runs through her days with a smile on her face…
Well, wasn’t that fun? Here, read the rest of the lyrics because they have absolutely nothing to do with what I associate the first line to.
And she runs through her days with a smile on her face
And she runs, and she waits, and I wait
We can drive to anyplace, day or night, across the state
And in the morning, into Mexico, we will wake up
I find a window in the kitchen, and I let myself in
Rummage through the refrigerator, find myself a beer
I can’t believe I’m really here, and she’s lying in that bed
I can almost feel her touch, and her anxious breath!
I stumble in the hallway, outside the bedroom door
I hear her call out to me, I hear the fear in her voice
She pulls the covers tighter, I press against the door
I will be with her tonight!
Cool! Breaking and entering! Being really creepshow and standing outside some chick’s bedroom door! Stealing beverages from the fridge! I could probably forgive crawling in through an open window and being a weirdo by standing in my doorway while I’m sleeping, but taking a beer without asking? That’s–no. Heck no.
Personal meaning aside, this song is also just plain effing good. The video is weird, showing a dead dude dressed as a lady and then some creepy dude wearing a jumpsuit and goggles running and flailing around the band as they play in an old house. If I may paraphrase a thought Eddie Vedder has about music videos, they detract from the music. Your experience sitting with headphones on and just you and the music pouring into your ears is compromised when you then add images to that. Some videos work, and suit the music, like “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead. Or some are just fun videos to watch, like “Coffee and TV” by Blur, but in this instance, it doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the song any less; I just don’t ever watch the music video because what the hell, Toadies?
And now for a Reading Rainbow Ending: this song is great, but you don’t have to take my word for it!
As always, thanks for reading. Hasta manana.