The Hold Steady, “How A Resurrection Really Feels”
The Hold Steady are one of my all-time favorite bands and I’m never quite sure why. By all accounts, they shouldn’t even be close. Lead vocalist Craig Finn’s gravelly growl is far from beautiful. His lyrics deal almost exclusively with tales of parties, alcohol and drugs — all things with which I have little to no experience. They are the quintessential American bar band — and I can count the number of times I have been to a bar on one hand. For all intents and purposes, I should be completely unable to relate to the band’s music.
Yet I do — completely. Finn’s exceptionally literary stories of young people coping with life by any means possible are familiar in the same way as J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye: they are tales of adolescent debauchery that fascinate and enrapture even the most straight-laced of audiences. You come to know and love Finn’s revolving cast of characters as friends; You care about them. As he weaves metaphors of religion and faith throughout his narratives, the songs become about much more than a couple drug-addled Minnesota twentysomethings looking for the next high. They become a series of diagonoses of an entire generation (our generation) set to crunching power chords and fluid keyboard licks. These people exist in real life — they are your friends, your neighbors, maybe even your family members. And that’s why the Hold Steady’s music is so salient: Craig Finn is writing music that provides the soundtrack to our generation’s lifestyle of decadence and excess, whether or not we choose to indulge ourselves.
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