Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days (2010 Edition), Day One: Destiny Calling by James

Another year, another cycle of 30 Songs, 30 Days.

The rules are this: once a day, I am going to put my 4GB Sansa Clip on Random and press play. I am obligated to write something on the song. There is no cheating and no do-overs with one exception--if you've covered two songs by an artist in the same cycle, you have the option of writing about the next one.

And we start out with this warning about how popularity and how fading it is...ironically by James, who wrote one of the greatest songs about obsessive love ever, 'Laid.' It's a peculiar song, with its martial beat and its ambivalent POV that seems to condemn those the singer sees as being complicit in their lives as pop darlings--the record label, who's 'playing roulette with lives'; the fans who seem to categorize the band members ('she likes the black one/he likes the posh one/Cute ones are usually gay')--while also being complacent as to their exploitation ('Tell us when our time's up/show us how to die well/show us how to let it all go'). Is it any wonder why it was one of the original tracks on their first Best Of compilations--which marks the very beginning of the end of the band. It's almost a Cassandra-esque warning that James was slowly coming apart, and to prepare for the worse.

Now, granted...James has since come back together, as have a slew of 90's era alternative rockers. But, much like "Laid" was eloquent in its honesty about self-destructive relationships, this one is brutal as a portrait of a band that is realizing it's run its course.

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