Dan Mangan’s 2009 record “Nice, Nice, Very Nice” feels like one of those records that I would write, if I had the right set of talents. Not, as you know, one of those records that I I would aspire to – my ego tends to force me to aim a little higher. No, this is a record that’s far too earnest for my daydreams of record stardom.
Not that earnest is bad. No, this is earnest in way that seems to fit – with the exception of Fair Verona – very much with my personal style. Hell, the damn thing is as autobiographical as my personal site. But that’s not what gets it, gets me writing about this record. What keeps me listening. That honor belongs to Mangan’s habit of weaving fantastically clever lyrics.
“Escape can’t be the only way
– Road Regrets
“This is good
As far as I can tell
It’s still heavy as hell
When it’s good.”
– Pines for Cedar
“I’m ambitious when giving up
Never thinking clear enough.”
– Tina’s Glorious Comeback
That last one smacked me when driving. It’s a line so good I’d wish that I’d written it. It’s a line that accurately describes how I act when I realize that things are done.
Stories are likely the cause, the root of my personal bad habit. A sense of possible victory and underdog optimism instilled through a decades of films, and television shows, and books. They keep telling us that not only can the little guy win, but all he needs to do so is to pull of an impossibly grand victory at the darkest time against the greatest odds.
Easy. One big act and then:
The boy gets the girl.
They save the orphanage.
The big client stays with the firm.
The frat gets to keep their house.
That one grand act makes everything all better.
A lifetime of seeing that work seems to have fixed it in the back of my mind and done a bangup job of mismanaging expectations. Stories end, but life has that terrible way of still going long after the narrative reached its logical conclusion.
And that’s because:
You can’t sustain a relationship on gestures. It takes actual work.
That orphanage still needs a viable business model.
The big client is back, for now. But the firm is still at risk.
And frat boys?
Even knowing that, even having a fairly functional idea of how the real world differs from the narrative one, I still find myself prone to ambition when I sense an end coming.
Too many books, movies, and pop songs, I suppose.
Woof, got quite the record backlog here.
“Purple Rain” by Prince and the Revolution
“Hug of Thunder” by Broken Social Scene
“Carla” by Carla Thomas
“Here are the Sonics” by The Sonics
“All Your Summer Songs” by Saturday Looks Good To Me
“My Favorite Faded Fantasy” by Damien Rice
“Destroyers of the Soft Life” by J Roddy Walston and the Business
“Beautiful Tired Bodies” by Howard Ivans
“Sprained Ankle” by Julien Baker
“Different Class” by Pulp
“Set Yourself On Fire” by Stars
“You Forget It In People” by Broken Social Scene