One of my all-time favorite country songs is "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)," written by the late, great Rose Maddox and popularized by the likes of Patsy Cline and Waylon Jennings, among others. On the surface, it is a pretty standard tale of lost love and heartbreak. But something about the chorus has always resonated with me in a way most torch songs don't. There is helpless desperation in Maddox' words — especially the way Cline sings them — that stirs emotion deeper than mere romantic folly. Really, who hasn't wanted to yank the cosmic e-brake and grind the world to a screeching halt from time to time?
Of course, there are precious few chances to do so, especially as one gets older. Or at least to do so without serious repercussions. But every now and then — or in this case, literally once in a blue moon — just such an opportunity arises. And when it does, it is wise to grab hold. And if you hadn't guessed by now, yes, this is all leading up to an explanation of why my little corner of the Interwebs has gone dark these last three weeks. To paraphrase Rose, I stopped the world and let myself off.
Every year around the holidays, 7D stops production for two-ish weeks and we all go home. (In a related story, don't look for a new paper this week. There won't be one. Before I started working here I used to hate that.) This year I took the word "vacation" by its most literal definition and intentionally avoided anything having to do with work. And let me tell you, it was amazing.
So what did I do during my self-imposed exile? Not much. I took a few naps. I caught up on some light reading (Bill Simmons' fascinating and often hilarious new epic, The Book of Basketball) and some tube watchin' (Inglorious Basterds, Extract, Up!, season three of Friday Night Lights). I took some more naps. I indulged my inner loser with some XBox-fueled geekin' out (Assassin's Creed 2). Took still more naps. And I fired up the old smoker for some winter BBQing (beer can chicken, pork shoulder). I also finally got around to revisiting and really digging in to a mountain of non-VT-made music that had taken a backseat in the wake of the recent wave of new local releases flooding my desk. And that mountain, my friends, is what I'd like to spend this week sharing with you. So consider this week's batch of posts my predictably belated 2009 "best of" roundup. Here we go.
First up, we have Only Way To Be Alone by Philly-based trio Good Old War, yet another band I stumbled upon this year thanks to I Am Fuel, You Are Friends. If I haven't mentioned it before — and I know I have — I really love that blog. And finds like GOW are exactly why.
I picked up the album several months ago, really dug it on cursory listens and then promptly forgot about it a couple of weeks later — I think because I still had 30 or so eMusic downloads to blow before the end of that month and it got lost in the shuffle. Anyway, flash to last week during the break. Whilst chatting with my li'l sis, Ariel, she asked if I had heard Dan Schwartz' new band. I had to think for a minute.
Dan Schwartz … Dan Schwartz … Why is that name so familiar? Then it struck me. Danger Dan! I used to work with Dan Schwartz at Magic Hat! That would have gnawed at me for hours were I not so heavily medicated by video games and pulled pork.
I said that I hadn't heard them, to which Ari replied, "Oh. They're really good. I think they're called … Good Old War." At precisely that moment my jaw hit the floor. Danger Dan is in Good Old War?
I guess I had heard them. And as she so often is, kid sis is correct. They are really good. Oh, and one more thing. Those of you who didn't work at Magic Hat circa 2002 might know Danger Dan as well. He was in a number of Burlington bands at the time, perhaps most notably The Dakota. Pretty cool, right? Small world.
Anyway, it seems Danger Dan Schwartz is doing pretty well for himself, as evidenced by this video of "Weak Man" from Only Way. Interesting side note: if you watch closely, you'll notice another person with B-town ties in the video, Allison Wadsworth, who also makes a stunning cameo on that album's closing track, "Stay By My Side."