tremble clef

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Josh Rouse, "Givin' It Up" (2006)

Inasmuch as I had a mental picture of Josh Rouse before this -- and I effectively didn't -- it would be: mild-mannered, a bit of a milquetoast, perhaps, or akin to beige wallpaper. Maybe not as smurfy as John Mayer, but certainly no more or less exciting than José González.

You're a Depressed Drunk

You know that distinct taste of tears and vodka real well.

"Givin' It Up" is about being a little too enamored of drink, and finally deciding that it is time to kick the habit. There are, of course, many kinds of drunks in the world -- the famed melancholic and the aggressive drunks only begin to scratch the surface -- but, still, I'm not sure I can picture someone like Josh stumbling around. He's not exactly Pete Doherty, or even Amy Winehouse.

"But don't look so surprised," Josh tells me, and so I give him the benefit of the doubt. The song features two terrific strings motifs: there is the four-bar passage that you hear right at the start of the song, and which recurs throughout. And on the middle eight ("There were far too many lies/I was way out of line"), there is also a wonderful snatch of strings that make the segment sound especially vital and urgent. The strings imbue the song with joy, as if Josh has actually succeeded in ridding himself of the addiction. Maybe he has. He does, after the bender of the night, wake "up the next day," "pack up the car and put [himself] in a hospital bed, because [he] need[s] some help to change." But even during that bender, he already decides: "In my drunken state I claim/That I'm giving it up for good/Gotta tell you dear, that was a bad time/I was on the ground crawling on all fours." Yes. He is that kind of drunk: the (self-)conscious kind, who, even in the depths of inebriation, retains perspective and the presence of mind to realize what he has to do when the haze wears off. Perspective! Presence of mind! Bah! Seems antithetical to the very spirit of getting drunk. No. I wouldn't know anything about that kind of drunk.


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