Friday, September 17, 2010

"Man, I Ain't Changed, But I Know I Ain't the Same"

While "Sixth Avenue Heartache" is actually my favorite song by the Wallflowers, I really wanted to talk about "One Headlight," which is probably their best-known song, from their breakthrough album, Bringing Down the Horse, because I love it so much.

It must be said that Bringing Down the Horse is a spectacular album start to finish. And "One Headlight" opens the album in style, first with a few haunting notes from a guitar and then with an absolutely insistent beat that speaks to the movement of the story told by the singer/narrator. (I recommend listening to this song with your headphones on, because the first few moments really pack a punch when heard at such close range.) The words--and, to an extent, Jakob Dylan's delivery--are particularly important to the song. Take, for example, this line from the chorus: "There's got to be something better than in the middle." Well, that's really what the song is all about, isn't it? The drive to get away? So all of those words--including the sentiment of the chorus as a whole ("We can drive it home") and the subject's assertion that "But there's got to be an opening / Somewhere here in front of me / Through this maze of ugliness and greed" culminate at the very end of the song with a few more hopeful notes.

As an aside, I'd like to note that this song was HUGE when I was in the fifth grade, which is probably part of why I'm so attached to it--it reminds me of my childhood. And, all right, I'll admit it: I think that Jakob Dylan is one of the most beautiful men on the planet and that his voice is really fantastic, especially on Bringing Down the Horse, so those things don't hurt this song, you know? But ultimately, it's the great musicianship and awesome lyrics that keep me coming back.

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