Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fountains of Wayne: "A Road Song"



I totally get it if you don't share my obsession with Fountains of Wayne. If so, you are excused from this lesson! Otherwise, here we go.

"A Road Song" gets off to a good start with a strumming, chugging rhythm and an excellent couplet that gets its geography right -- while tossing in some internal rhymes as a bonus: "We're still in Wisconsin / As far as I know / Today was Green Bay / Tomorrow Chicago." After a nice verite reference to a dying cell phone (the bane of travel), we get to the B section where the narrator does a preemptive strike against the allegation of cliche. Again, good stuff. Oh, and the interjection of "but hey" is pitch-perfect vernacular.

But now we go up a notch in songwriting craft. The first time I listened to "A Road Song," I said to myself, Wait a second, did they just rhyme Cracker Barrel with Will Farrell? Yes they did. Anyone who has spent time on America's interstate highways knows how apposite this is. The landscape is like a repeating GIF of chain restaurants, strip malls, and megaplex theaters. And since Will Farrell isn't known for quality control, "forty movies" sounds right. The second time through the B section they deliver again, this time rhyming "not necessary" and "no Steve Perry." Perfect.

"A Road Song" is a love song about apologizing to one's spouse for writing them a love song. It's a love song completely stripped of romance, and in so doing becomes one of the most romantic songs going -- at least for an old married guy like me.

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