Never tell John Roderick, but nobody is a bigger Long Winters fan than I am.
I own all his records, I know mostly all the words to his songs, and I do still pore diligently over the handful of amazing unreleased tracks John’s shared with me over the years—which tunes I can’t even believe John has thought weren’t up to snuff.
All so great.
And, at least in my head, as with my favorite Beatles albums, I oscillate on that thorny fan dilemma of which one is My Favorite Long Winters Song. And, I do oscillate.
Some days, I favor the white-boy soul of “Scared Straight.” Others, I go for the mannered and baroque “Ultimatum.” Sometimes, it’s just the pure pop of “New Girl.” And, like a lot of you, I have a special fondness for John’s poignant epic, “The Commander Thinks Aloud.”
Thing is, oscillate as I do, I pretty much always land back at the first Roderick song I ever heard: 2003’s “Carparts.”
Love the breath at the beginning, love Sean Nelson and Chris Walla’s harmonies, love Ben Gibbard’s pot-banging drum thrashing, and I love the breathless and soaring…everything about this song.
But, I think my favorite part of My Favorite Long Winters song is the lyrics—those amazing lines.
“I didn’t have the money, or I would have gotten roses.”
“I mean to quit stealing as soon as I steal for the last time.”
“At least my watch is right two times a day.”
“You put all your hope in my slim chance.”
And, of course, the dinger:
“Baby wasn’t down with the heist…”
I know. I go on about John and his songs. But, I’m not doing it to either proselytize you into fandom or, God forbid, to stoke the easy tinder heating John’s considerable surplus of human dignity.
I go on about John’s stuff because, as much as I love so many bands and so many songs, there haven’t been too many musical artifacts of the last 25 years that stand up to both repeated listens and repeated scrutiny as well as John’s artifacts. At least for me.
That probably says way more about my age, sensibilities, and attention than it does about “the world.” But, I suspect it says the most about what it means to find music that grows up with you. That survives one’s own moods, jobs, addresses, bedfellows, and haircuts, and just sounds better and more satisfying as you change, but still keep hitting, “PLAY” without hesitation.
John’s not for everybody. Nothing is for everybody. But, it does give a person a warm and weirdly rewarding feeling to find those songs with personal durability.
Like a lot of John’s songs, “Carparts” really does that for me.
So, no. Don’t tell Roderick I’m a fan, and certainly don’t feel like you need to join me in fandom to get the bigger point.
Which is simply that we’re lucky ducks when we can count on a song to give us a little jolt every time it comes on.
And, every time I hear that little inhalation at the beginning of “Carparts,” I get a large and very durable jolt.