Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HYMNS: Red House Painters - "Cruiser"

HYMNS is a new feature on Forest Gospel. The point is to post about songs that epitomize and create moods, and times, and places. Songs that are formally exciting and emotionally resonant. Songs, basically, that are perfect. We hope to introduce you to new things, but there will be some really obvious, part-of-the-collective-cultural-consciousness entries, too. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded.
Let us know what you think: you know where the comment box is.

Red House Painters - "Cruiser"
(from Old Ramon, Sub Pop, 2001)

This is pouring out of me. What's coming out of the speakers -- she made a motion like scooping piles of stuff out of her stomach -- are my actual real emotions as music. This sounds exactly as I feel and am thinking, right here and now.

Once, a girl lay in my bed, the night before we were separated for a long time, and said this about "Cruiser". The precision and efficiency with which Mark Kozelek is able to get to that whole gut-shoveling thing is still surprising after years of listening on repeat. The song is so simple, so at ease with itself, and so cutting for that. The guitarwork is absolutely elegant.

"LA took a part of me / LA gave this gift to me"

It's a sort of lament, a slow drive across a city and through the grief of leaving things behind. Kozelek quietly conjures the contradictory feeling of gain and loss both -- grateful for having had, mournful for having no longer. "Cruiser" churns with that particularly fresh strand of nostalgia we feel just as the thing is slipping away, still in sight, sparkling on the ground below us.

MP3: Red House Painters - "Cruiser"


Sam said...


1. It's also just a perfect sunwashed driving song. (It's called "Cruiser," after all.) Laid back with lots of air to breathe.

2. This is maybe the best song ever written about Los Angeles. Other candidates?

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