I Was Lucky to Get Out Alive

Despite that whole jag from earlier about not using Spotify, I do still use the fucker for making niche playlists (running lists, a “guess who picked this song” game I invented called Car Mystery, so forth). One of the playlists I have on there is just an ever-growing list of songs that are over 7 minutes long that I like to put on shuffle and repeat on days when I have to knuckle down and get some shit done.

I also use my Spotify account to play music in the car for my three-year-old daughter (BIG reviews on the new Peppa Pig album over here, “Bing Bong Champion” is immediately at the top of the canon), and because I share this account with my wife – and because she sometimes takes my daughter places in the car while I work from my basement content lair – I will occasionally have my 54th listen of “Restarter” by Torche interrupted by “Birdy Birdy Woof Woof” or some shit. It is in these moments that, as much as I would like to expose my daughter to Floridian sludge-metal, that I turn back to me reliable, beloved Bandcamp and rock out with whatever I can think of. Today, it was the somewhat maligned and overlooked (at least by me) final(?) Constantines record, Kensington Heights. I come to you now, fictional people, to say this: That album kicks way more ass than I realized at first blush. The Constantines! They still got it!

Honestly, I do not know what it is about me and this band. I do not know why every time I listen to them it feels like I am hearing them for the first time. I do not know what it is about the alchemical combination of Bry Webb’s growling vocals and his uplifting youth-in-revolt songwriting that makes me want to cover myself in lyric tattoos like every bad teenage impulse all at the same time. I do not know what it is about the dual-guitars and rolling-snares of this band’s every song makes me want to drink a 25oz Bud Ice and fight a rival gang with my three best friends. Frankly, I don’t care to know. This band remains a time machine for me to a time that never really existed, but only could have existed when I was 20, romantic, and ready to scream like I could be heard, like the sound made a difference. It’s a remarkable, ineffable thing they capture. The damn spirit of rock and roll here.

I’ve heard this album a dozen times, but “Brother Run Them Down” is the song that plugged me into the universal adapter, and these lyrics specifically:

Brother run them down
Come working nights
Come paranoia
Come any hard times waiting for you

It’s really better if you listen to, because on the page it looks a little bit the venn diagram between “AA prayer” and “high school poetry.” That’s the way it goes with a lot of the Constantine’s lyric writing, but the delivery of these things make you a believer. Even their lesser works can move you, if you permit yourself to be moved, permit yourself to be vulnerable and beautiful. Inspiration and possibility, that’s what these canucks sell.

Here’s some news you can use. If you go for a jog and listen to these Constantines songs in this specific order – “Hotline Operator,” “Nighttime / Anytime (It’s Alright),” “Insectivora,” “Working Full Time,” “On To You,” “Young Offenders” – you will be able to run further and faster than any animal on the planet. Brother run them down.

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