As the 97’s celebrate the 15th anniversary of the release of Too Far To Care, I will take the opportunity to dig into my addled memory for some stories and insights. I’ll start with a track-by-track retrospective of the album’s thirteen songs. I will address them in reverse order, finishing appropriately with “Timebomb”.
Track 06 – “Melt Show”
The genesis of the Old 97’s can be traced back to the Marquita Courts apartment complex in Dallas’ Lower Greenville neighborhood. Murry and I had been collaborating for years, but it wasn’t until Ken Bethea moved into the apartment across from Murry’s that the pieces of this particular band began to fall into place. We heard him playing the accordion through the door, caught a peek of a beat up old Harmony Rocket hollow body guitar, and knew that he was the missing link.
Shortly after that, I moved from my room in Murry’s apartment to a sweet first floor unit at the back of the complex. This followed a whirlwind week wherein I met a beautiful young Cuban girl from Miami, fell in love with her and drove her to Ciudad Juarez with the intention of getting married. After buying “silver” rings in the local market, we arrived at the Registro Civil in Juarez at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. A note affixed to the door informed us that they had closed up shop early that day and would not reopen until the following Monday. My almost-betrothed and I packed into my pickup truck and headed, at her insistence, towards Las Vegas. In Deming, New Mexico, I pulled over to the side of the highway and confessed to her that my ardor had cooled just enough to make me think we should slow down, maybe get to know each other for more than six days before committing to spending the rest of our lives together.
So in lieu of marriage, we moved into the aforementioned first-floor unit. Our back window overlooked a grade school. Many mornings, we woke early to the sound of screaming children. I remember there was an under-the-stairs closet that became my songwriting hideaway, and as things between us deteriorated, my all-purpose hideaway. It was a passionate, intense summer. My band was proving to be an ever-more-real endeavor, but my almost-wife was proving to be an absolute disaster.
One of my best friends, Clark Vogeler, now a member of the great Toadies, was playing in a band called Melt at the time. I was a big fan. I spent many a night in the front row at the Melt show. The story behind this song started in that front row and ended with a glass ashtray whizzing past my temple and smashing a window out of that sweet first-floor unit that overlooked a schoolyard. Have I learned anything in the ensuing years? Hopefully. I still, however, believe that “a little gettin’ some’s good while you’re waitin’ around.”
PS: Have your own memories of “Melt Show” or Too Far To Care in general? Tweet them at me.