Sunday, March 10, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEOFF RICKLY! Thursday's Greatest Hits: Vol 1

Felipe M

We love the band Thursday around these parts.  We're still sad that they have broken up/on hiatus and won't be making new music or touring any time soon.  Although lead singer, Geoff Rickly did release new solo work for free download.  I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate his birthday than to look back at the band's body of work and countdown their greatest songs of all time.

It's a lot of songs to go through and it was extremely difficult to give the songs the respect they deserve so I decided to do this in three parts:

  • Vol I will deal with the band's earlier work and countdown that era's top 15 songs
  • Vol II will deal with with the band's later work and countdown that era's top 15 songs
  • Vol III will put both collections together to make the ultimate Thursday list.  
But first a bit of a background.

The first Thursday song that caught my attention was "Cross Out the Eyes."  It was available on one of the Warped Tour Compilation CDs.  I must have bought this in the fall of 2002 or summer of 2003.  At first, I really was not enamored with this song, but eventually, after a lot of listens, it grew on me. 

One day, I was listening to my car's radio and they station I was listening to announced that they were going to premiere a new song by the band Thursday.  I got excited!  "I know that band!  They're on that comp CD I bought not too long ago. What was the name of the song again?" were the thoughts that were racing through my head.  The new song that would premiere on radio was "Signals Over the Air." That song got me hooked to the band and immediately went out and bought the album. I immediately fell in love with War All the Time.

Afterwards, I realized that the local college radio stations would play more Thursday songs that I did not recognize.  One song, in particular, was extremely catchy and memorable.  I thought it was a new song.  One local show (All Ages Radio out of Naperville, IL), would play other Thursday songs that I simply didn't recognize.  I still thought that they must have been new songs because they seemed to have sounded better than some of the songs from War All the Time.  I would eventually find out the name of the track that I absolutely loved and would crank up my car's stereo every time one of the college stations would play it.  That song was called "Understanding in a Car Crash."

And then they would play other songs: "Jet Black New Year," "Paris in Flames," "Standing on the Edge of Summer," "Wind-Up," "Streaks in the Sky," and "This Side of Brightness."  After listening to all of these great songs, I had to get Full Collapse.  I was disappointed that "Jet Black" was not on the album, but it quickly became my favorite CD of all time.  You're talking to a guy who was listening to, but tired of, Korn, Limp BizkitSystem of a Down and the rest of the Nu-Metal sound.  I quickly fell in love with this band.

It was only much, much later that I eventually downloaded Waiting on i-Tunes and that turned out to be an amazing album as well.  The problem is that Thursday went on to release two, benchmark albums that would redefined the hardcore/punk/post-hardcore genres and many people either forget or dislike Waiting for many reasons (mainly, Geoff's clean vocals and annoying screams.  I like them, but many people were turned off by them).  So with that being said, here are the Top 15 songs from the 1st half of Thursday's career:

15. "Dying in New Brunswick"-- One of the sadder songs by the band you will ever hear.  It was written about Geoff's girlfriend who was raped in the New Jersey town.  You could feel the despair and anguish in Geoff's voice.  Even the soft croons throughout the song have a sound of desperation in his voice.  Meanwhile, the complementing screams add the hate, anger, and frustration over the tragic ordeal.

QUOTE: "You stripped away the street signs and shot out all the stop lights.  If you smashed away all the buildings, what would you have left?"

14. "Jet Black New Year"-- The first time I saw this band perform live was in the fall of 2007.  Before Geoff played this song, he explained that "this song is about a fucked up New Year's Eve party."  Enough said.

QUOTE: "There's music playing, but we dance to the beat of our own black hearts."
"The air is cut with cyanide in honor of the New Year."

13. "Paris in Flames"-- The first few times I listened to this song, without being aware of the lyrics, I don't know why, but I always thought it had something to do with gay issues.  I know that when I was in college in 2004-'05, we were studying about the Stonewall Riots so perhaps this song somehow tapped deep into my subconscious.  Later on, I did read an article that this song is indeed about the incident, but unfortunately, I couldn't retrieve it.  

QUOTE: "We all sing the songs of separation, and we watch our lives bleed out through our hands."

12. "Autobiography of a Nation"-- The first time I heard this song was when I bought the album.  The part that sticks out is the introduction as it builds up until it finally comes to a climax with Geoff screaming out, "WRITE THESE WORDS BACK DOWN, inside!"  I just remember repeating the track numerous times the first time I heard it and began to rock out and scream along with the lyrics.  Good times!  I always thought this song was about the evils of imperialism.  If it's not, I apologize, but it makes sense to me.

QUOTE: "Everything they say, we stole.  All the dreams they had, we killed."
"We erased all their images and replaced them with borders and flags."

11. "Tomorrow I'll Be You"-- This song always had a science fiction feel to it.  And the few times I've seen this band perform live, this is usually the most requested song from the audience.  They've never played it the three times I've seen them live, however.  I can try and bore you as to what I think the meaning of this song is, but I think I'll let the birthday boy explain.

Another inclination I had about this song was that it lyrically sounded like "Jet Black New Year."  Once again, I urge you to click on the link to let Geoff explain the real story behind the song.

QUOTE: "As the language dissolves, and the sentence fits...since I replaced the 'I' in "Live" with an 'O,' I can't remember who you are."

10. "Standing on the Edge of Summer"--Song about Geoff's dying grandmother.  This song is full of great lines.  I'll try to limit them:

QUOTE: "We're betting on our own lives, making up for all the time we lost."
"In this house of cards, we're all holding hearts and spades."
"Driving in your car, missed a stop sign, fall in love, just to get knocked out."
"Pulled like a punch, burnt like a cigarette."

9. "Asleep in the Chapel"-- I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard the part about "the choir girls sing, 'oh lord, can you save us? Oh lord, sing HALLELUJAH!"  Geoff explains that this is a song of hope for those who have lost their religious faith.

QUOTE: "We woke up this morning to a sky with no air in it.  And all of the streets are filled with a thousand burning crosses.  And what we thought was the sunrise, was just passing headlights."

8. "This Song Brought to You By a Falling Bomb"--Although the band has stated that this album was never intended to have a political theme, as a college student, during that time, I always thought that there were more political overtones that the band refused to acknowledge.  This song is a prime example as it put me, the listener, in the shoes of a person experiencing a bomb falling on top of his house; a home that he has used as defense against the outside, chaotic world, only to be destroyed by probably the one thing that can penetrate the once-perceived safety of his home.  Geoff explains better than I ever can, here.

QUOTE: "Shut the window, love.  Keep the world outside.  I don't want to think about anyone."

7. "For the Workforce, Drowning"--Geoff explains here.  For all those people who love their jobs and consider their lives to be 'fulfilled,' this song is not for you.

QUOTE: "Dressed for the funeral in black and white.  These ties strangle our necks."
"Don't let me drown before the workday ends."
"Everyday: it's like the last"

6. "Introduction/Streaks in the Sky"--I refuse to play "Streaks" without having to listen to the "Introduction" track that precedes it.  Many fans think that it might be Geoff retelling the story how he left his parents to pursue his own life, finding out that it was a lot more difficult than anticipated, and returned home like the "prodigal son."  Again, that seems to be the general consensus.

QUOTE: "There's a peak we have to climb over, so get a running a start."

5. "This Side of Brightness"--I can easily flip-flop "Brightness" with "Streaks."  I gave the former the higher rank because of the violin that plays throughout the song.

QUOTE: "The heartbreak that comes with just living through one day, the good times that passed, and all the friends we lose in a lifetime on our way."

4. "War All the Time"--Again, when this album was released, the U.S. was in a war with Iraq and many thought (including me) that this album was a political, anti-war album and this song would be personify it.  However, the band has dismissed that notion countless times before explaining that it's more connected to the every day struggle that is life and love.  Geoff explains a lot better than I can.

QUOTE: "So we park these cars in our parents' garage to listen to the lullaby of carbon monoxide."
"They burn on and on like an oil field."

3. "A Hole in the World"--Simply a beautiful song full of imagery.  You can hear the despair, frustration, and hope in Geoff's voice throughout the song.  Mixed reports from fans indicate that the song may either be about an abusive relationship or a friend that committed suicide; this friend was into photography, hence the reference near the end about the subject matter.  Needs to be listened to along with the acoustic version of the song.  Also near the end of the song, and the reason why it's ranked so high, is the well-complemented piano portion. 

QUOTE: "In this blackout, inertia will hold our thoughts."
"The exit sign offers no light to see by."
"Can we cast our shadows alone in the dark?"
"These notes will fold themselves."
"Standing on the margin's can find compassion here, but the page turns too fast."
"We fell in this hole that opened up; giving up on hope, living without love."
"Love is Love."
"There is no such thing as whole.  There is a hole in the world."

2. Signals Over the Air"-- Probably the song that got a lot of people into Thursday, especially if they were never familiar with Full Collapse.  As previously mentioned, this track received a lot of commercial airplay.  Check out the song's wikipedia page for more detail.  You can also listen to Geoff explain the track, here

QUOTE: ""Is this how it feels when you don't even fit into your own skin?  Its getting tighter; everyday I'm getting smaller.  If I keep holding my breath, I'm going to disappear."

"They stole the love from our lives to put the sex on the radio."

1. "Understanding in a Car Crash"--Without a doubt, the band's most popular song.  They've played this track at every Thursday show I've been to.  This song is the reason why a lot of people became fans of this band.  

QUOTE: "These broken windows, open locks, reminders of the youth we lost."
"Time to let this pass; time runs through our veins; we don't stand a chance in this threadbare time."
"Staring at the setting sun, no reason to come back again; the twilight world in blue and white."
"The broken watch you gave me turns into a compass.  Its two hands still point to the same time; 12:03"
"So push the seats back a little further; roll the windows down and take a breath."
"I can see the headlights coming; they paint the world in red and broken glass."
"The spinning hubcaps set the tempo for the music of the broken window."
"And it's over in a flash and I will never, ever understand!"

On that note, we would like to wish Geoff Rickly a happy birthday and a big "thank you" to him and Thursday for putting out great music.  One final request; please come back soon!

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