Craig Finn is a songwriter and music fan. He is the frontman for the Hold Steady and used to sing for Lifter Puller. Craig is from Minneapolis but has lived in Brooklyn since 2000. He mostly likes talking about Kiss but also digs sports and late-’80s hardcore. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Every summer, there’s that song — the song that defines those sunny days and balmy nights, the one you’ll forever associate with a specific time and place. This week, Talkhouse writers talk their song of the summer of 2014.
— the editors of the Talkhouse
I’m not sure I believe in summer songs. Summer is my least favorite season. I grew up in Minnesota where it’s mostly cold. I can deal with cold. It makes me feel awake. I like spring and autumn as much as the next guy. But summer usually kind of sucks. It’s all hot and hazy and stifling. The days are fuzzy and the hangovers are worse than usual. If you live in a city, you can smell piss in the streets. You see more rats. The subway platforms are excruciating. The air conditioning makes me sick.
Yeah, I’ve written songs about summertime but they were mostly hopeful and utopian in a way that summer rarely is. Summer is usually disappointing. As a kid, it was going back to school with yearbook promises unfulfilled. In adulthood, it’s just more elements to bear on the way to work. More crime, more noise, more food poisoning, more bugs. So if I choose a summer song, it won’t be about convertibles and beach breezes.
Months back, a few friends got in touch and asked if I’d heard the record Divide and Exit by Sleaford Mods. They thought I’d like it. They were right. The band features Jason Williamson, a world class ranter who is backed by steady but stark loops. I loved it instantly. The whole thing is bleak, funny, pissy and inspiring. I can’t wait to see them live. When I understand what he’s talking about, I find Williamson’s complaints to be insightful and charming. More often I have no idea what he’s going on about, but the songs connect all the same. I know he’s frustrated, I know he’s angry and I know he’s fighting.
“Tied Up in Nottz” is such a great song. His opening salvo is “The smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon”… and he’s off. Before the first chorus comes around he’s made a Footloose reference, shat himself at a Polish off-license and dismissed touring bands entirely. “Nottz” is likely the band’s hometown of Nottingham, but I can’t be sure. Either way, I can sing the whole thing to you. Although I just checked the internet and I had a lot of the words wrong.
It seems to me that choosing a song of the summer is the thing of teenyboppers, a throng at the mall in a flyover state. But this song is my summer song. This is the song I’m going to play when I’m standing on the subway platform and sweating through the back of my shirt. This is the song I’m going to play when I’m scratching the insect bites on my legs so hard that I draw a little blood. This is the song I’m going to play when I get together with my friends and drink against the heat. By now my friends all know the words to it, too. We are going to stay up late and yell it in each other’s faces. And, actually, this might be a great summer after all.