Review of “Songs for the End of the World” Part Two: Brutal Honesty

My totally honest and real take on The Songs For the End of the World. Overall, I have to say, it wasn’t an instant moment of connection with these songs. I had to sit down with them and really listen carefully and invest some time with them. Once I did, I definitely came up with some affinity for most of the tunes (sorry, there are a few that I don’t think are ever going get inside me). Again, bad fan me just has the downloaded iTunes version, so I do have “The Bug” but none of the other bonus tunes that are available with the hard copy versions.

Wide Awake: Not my favorite, and I think it colored my first listen to the whole collection in a negative way. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it. I actually like the sentiment of the lyrics, but the music isn’t for me. It’s very repetitive, a little too chaotic and hyper. There’s no break to the dissonant sounds. That being said, it probably will make my RunMix playlist because it has a steady, fast beat.

Our Ship’s Sinking: The opening lines: “If I’m the one who caused your shipwrecked life, then hold my hand right to the fire. And I’ll bear this cross of love, enough for you, enough for me, even though the water’s all around and climbing higher…” Damn. This imagery, this turn of phrase. This is why I love Rick’s music. The whole metaphor of a ship sinking for a love gone wrong is beautifully played out in every lyric this tune. Another upbeat song, but this one with major chords instead of minor ones, makes me want to tap my feet and sing along.

I Hate Myself: A theme we see repeated often in Rick’s music, and examined thoroughly in his book: his self loathing and self destructive habits. I love his honesty about the subject, truly, and have always found comfort in the fact that someone as famous and successful as him could have the same thought patterns as myself in terms of low self esteem. But I’m not going to lie: I think it is slightly disconcerting to sing “I Hate Myself” over and over. I found it slightly odd to see legions of fans this week singing this chorus loud and proud. Maybe it’s my own issues coloring my feelings on this, but it just feels like a weird song to have as an fan anthem, you know? The song is catchy but I am really not wild about the sentiment.

You and Me: Clearly another love song for Rick’s wife Barbara, You and Me gives us all another glimpse into their long term marriage and relationship. It’s a sweet song that is eminently full of hooks; you start singing along with the chorus immediately. Love the line: “Given this frantic pace, just having another friendly face to share my pain…” I think this one has good broad based appeal for radio, and am not the least bit surprised that this track was released early, ostensibly for that purpose. It would be a great fit on A/C Mix stations.

Gabriel: Definitely one of my favorites, if not my favorite so far on this CD. I love the music, I love the message, and I really love the lyrics on this song. I am not sure if he’s really asking the archangel Gabriel for help, or if Gabriel is a code for someone who has passed already that Rick is seeking help from. It could be twisted and turned into several different stories and/or messages, which is of course the hallmark of a truly great song: the ability to apply the message in a myriad of circumstances.

A Sign Of Life: This is a weird, sci fi trip to start with….quintessential, quirky Rick. But then it kind of moves towards more of an existential “where is our higher power” and “are we alone down here” on Earth. I like the music in here, it is an upbeat and peppy tune, but overall, it’s not one that hits me in the heart. You know what I am talking about.

My Last Heartbeat: Initially, I hated this song. The dissonant, hard rock entry to it did nothing to grab me on my first listen. The music just wasn’t my thing. But then I put the song on while I was walking on the treadmill, and I could really hear the lyrics. The opening parry: “There’s a hole in my heart where the love leaks out, a shadow in my heart that is filled with out, a devil on my back, I can hear him shout…’let me in, let me in’.” Wow. Powerful stuff. The whole song is filled with fantastic images and lyrics that do exactly what they did not do in “A Sign of Life”: they reach in and grab you, making you listen. Making you understand exactly where he was when he wrote this song. Love when that happens.

Joshua: My favorite from my first listen to this collection. I love the music, that’s what initially made me listen. But moreover, I love this love song to his son. It’s not about romantic love, it’s not about himself, it’s not filled with self loathing or self hatred or doubt. It’s filled with all we admire about Rick Springfield: a good man who cares about his children and would do anything to lead them through this life with fewer scars than he bears from his own childhood. I also completely feel these sentiments for my own child, who is just a few months younger than Rick’s Joshua.

Love Screws Me Up: A revisit from an old tune that those of us who have one of those Limited Editions (is this on the SDAA one? I can’t remember) remember well. I like the redo. It’s cleaner, more polished. A fun rock anthem that is easy to understand and eminently relatable. “I want to drink from the picture perfect loving cup, but I fuck it up…” Love that.

I Found You: Another dark sounding song that didn’t pull me in at first. But like many Rick songs, particularly in this collection, when I had the chance to really sit and listen, this one grew on me. Fantastic wordsmithing in this tune: “That’s when I found you…somewhere between pain and fear….” “I’m too blind to read the wall…” “And then you walked into my thunderstorm and stopped the rain from falling….” This won’t be an anthem fans sing in concert, but it may end up being one of those that true fans sit in lobbies talking about, wishing he would play live.

Depravity: This one actually induced a headache the first time I heard it, no lie. The screaming guitars sound like Rick and what he does when he really gets into playing, but it just made me shake. More of the same dark and twisty theme that is Rick these days….he is constantly fighting “Mr. D”, or depravity as he names it here. This song is dark and displays the struggle within Rick at all times. He needs to be saved from it. “Save me from the dark one who comes around, I don’t want to be in this crowd, so I won’t tear this to the ground….” I like the way he weaves the words to tell of the constant inner battle. It’s a dark song with a dark theme, but I can totally relate. That being said, I could do without the spelling of depravity throughout.

One Way Street: I really like the message in this song. It is classic Rick, if you know that he really is an introvert seeking to connect with people but being very uncomfortable in his own skin a lot of the time. This song is also (I sound like a broken record) filled with very concrete, well crafted images to tell the story he is trying to convey: “From a window, I’m looking down at a one way street…all the cars, they’re all pushing in one direction…and the faceless people moving ahead in that same direction…every one of those people searching your eyes for a real connection…yea, I’m just like you, looking for meaning to feel complete…hope and praying its true, that love is never a one way street.” In in my head, I can put this song as between Rick and his fans. He often talks about how he really connects with his fans, and how he has really figured out that he has been such a big part of people’s lives without ever really knowing it. “Love is never a one way street,” could be a recognition of this connection.

I have the iTunes version of the CD….so I also have….

The Bug: Honestly, probably my least favorite tune of the whole thing. For all of the beautifully written lyrics and well crafted imagery contained within this collection, this one falls short of the mark for me. I don’t like the little “Help Me” at the beginning, I am not a fan of minor key, and I really think he could do better than “You are the flame and I’m the bug.” Seriously. Maybe this one didn’t make it into the top 12. But whatever. It’s a catchy little tune that makes me run faster on the treadmill, so it’s good for something.

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