I've been listening to the new album by The Hold Steady, Boys And Girls In America. It achieves the status promised by its lofty title. Eleven perfect songs - ballads and rockers, thinkers and feelers.
I always wanted to be the one to write the ultimate song about the young women of Bloomington, Minnesota. But Craig Finn beat me to it with Southtown Girls, the Stairway to Heaven/Under the Bridge/Stars of Track and Field of the energy drink generation.
Southtown Girls (named for the consistently disappointing Southtown Shopping Center, near the corner of 494 and Penn) is a song of celebration and remorse, of expectations and platitudes, of eulogies and driving directions. I'm still not sure how Nicollet Avenue gets you to the ocean or which ocean it gets you to, considering it's a north-south street in Minnesota. Maybe the ocean is figurative. Still, someone took the trouble to make a literal map of Twin Cities references in Hold Steady songs. This is why the world is a better place now than ever before.
I hear the university band practicing outside my window here at work. Say what you will about my employer - their (perceived) elitism, their inconvenient location, their conservative architecture, the relatively poor academic performance of their student-athletes, the high tuition, etc. - but please acknowledge the fact that we have the best damn school band in the universe. Wow.