Friday, June 16, 2017

THE DIRTY DOZEN: Streetlight Manifesto's Greatest Songs

Felipe M

It's no secret around these parts; we love the band Streetlight Manifesto.  They're the only ska band that matters, as far as I'm concerned.  

Was going to release the 12 GREATEST STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO SONGS EVER when The Hands that Thieve was supposed to be released.  I was one of many people that actually pre-ordered the album directly from the band's website.  Then Victory Records decided to add yet another rift between them and the band.  So now I have to wait to see what happens with my order.  Will probably just donate the money to the band.  

Anyway, it's only 12 songs because I'm only ranking the songs from their albums Everything Went Numb and Somewhere in the Between.  Both albums combined have 22 total tracks so I decided to only pay special attention to 12 songs.  I'll try to write a few thoughts of these great songs, but most definitely will be turning some of my favorite lyrics into "quote form" so you, the reader, can show off to your friends and family.  

And now, in reverse order:

12.  "Watch It Crash":  A really fast song with a very catchy hook, "So mercy, mercy, mercy me!"  I have this vibe that this song might be of living life without regret and just continuing to tread along forward, even when life makes you slip, stumble, and crash.  At least that's what I come up with as I don't have the CD jacket that included the liner notes to every track of this album readily available.  

Quote: "We can't just blame it on our mothers, claiming everything they did was always wrong." 

11.  "The Saddest Song": Usually when a band titles a track "The Saddest Song," it's usually a sappy, slow, gut-wrenching, angst-filled, and most depressing song you will ever hear.  This song, however, is fast, upbeat, and the lyrics are presented in a non-depressing way.  I can remember listening to this song plenty of times and felt much better about my life.  I believe it's because this song is not so much "sad" as it is realistic; you can try to control things all you want, but life will always throw unexpected challenges at you.  I guess that in itself is the "sad" part about life, but I always took it more as a reminder of what life really is all about: overcoming obstacles.  

Quote: "I'm off to save the world once again, but I don't know how I'll pull it off this time."

10.  "We Will Fall Together": The opening track to the Between, this track goes out of its way to spit at the Judeo-Christian notions of the afterlife and what happens to our mind and soul when our bodies finally give out.  Plus it proclaims, confidently, that when we pass on as humans, there will be no higher life form to "catch us so we'll [have to] catch ourselves" as we'll have to rely on each other instead of a higher power that was never there to begin with.  I really like how Thomas Kalnoky incorporates biblical verses into the song in a sort of sarcastic manner: "And only then will we be free/And up will rise the meek" and "And we know not what we do."  Plus it's pretty cool when they play this song live and the crowd sings the "We can only look away (away, AWAY, away, AWAY, away...)."  

Quote: "So how will we fight?  All we have is logic and love on our side."

9.  "Everything Went Numb": I'm pretty sure when people hear this sax intro, they automatically know that it's the first track to the album of the same name.  From what I remembered, Thomas had mentioned that this was literally a song about a bank robbery.  I'm pretty sure there are lessons to be learned here, but you go ahead and figure them out.

QUOTE: "Bet on the Feds because the black-hat men never win in the end."

8.  "Point/Counterpoint": I'm pretty sure people are going to be mad that this isn't listed as the #1 on this list.  I would argue that listing this song as #1 would diminish the overall work of this band.  Admittedly, "Everything Went Numb" and "Point/Counterpoint" were the songs that got me into this band, but when you're talking about the best of the best, there are other tracks in the Streetlight catalog with better lyrics, better crafted songs, and are not as repetitive as this song.  That's just me though.  In regards to the song, it's a story about every type of conflict you can think of: suicide, domestic arguments, gang warfare, guns and violence, you name it.  

QUOTE: "Some are going to say that we are doomed to repeat all of our past mistakes."

7. "Forty Days": One of the slower songs that I actually enjoy from the band.  From what I remembered, the Between is an album that challenges religious (mostly Christian) conventional thought.  The song's title is a reference to the story from the New Testament of the Bible, but then again, throughout the Bible, the number 40 is used liberally as a symbol.

This song is littered with Christian overtones (i.e. "I've tasted seven sins, so they won't let me in") and questions a lot of the foundation of Christianity. 

QUOTE: "What a waste!  So many decent people at the gates."

6. "That'll Be the Day": Another song about suicide (or suicide prevention?).  It's a fast-paced song with great sing-alongs despite the somber subject matter and a great climax:

"Gone! Everybody's crying, now you're GONE!
And everybody's missing you: from apathy to sympathy, 
This new found love is new to me.
And I can hear you laughing in your grave."

QUOTE: "Shattering our innocence like a bullet through a glass."

5. "We Are the Few": Not going to delve too deep into the lyrics as this might be the most ambiguous of the band's songs.  I feel like it might be about the death/murder of an innocent, young lady or, as someone explained to me, it could be a couple of songs rolled into one.  Whatever the case may be, the main reason this song is ranked ahead of their more popular work (although it received a great reception when they played it live at this show) is because of the climax portion of the song: 
  • "This has been the best night of my life..."
It's always been my favorite part of the song, and probably would be the best part of the album if it wasn't for the next song...

QUOTE: "I don't know where we went wrong, but all I know now is I got to do something right."

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