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 11 – “Niteclub”
During the year or two leading up to the recording of Too Far To Care, I was living with a young woman who was poised and destined to move to New York City to pursue her dream. And then she did move. And the fuel that her departure provided my young songwriting machine burned hot indeed.
I remember writing this song, or its lyrics anyway, in a phone booth in a nightclub in Cleveland. It was her 22nd birthday, and I was not with her. But I was where I was meant to be. The crocodile tears I’ve cried could end the drought in Texas.
When I sing “Niteclub” these days, I marvel at its prescience. The nightclub did steal my youth. And the nightclub does follow me around, unchanging and eternal. And while I’m busy loving my job, I’m also lamenting the life it precludes. You know, the normal life? The 9 to 5?
One lyric in particular has evolved in a sad, marvelous way. When I wrote “telephones make strangers out of lovers,” I was looking at a pay phone (remember those?), and thinking how the false connection it provided served only to increase the emotional distance between lovers. Now, when I sing the song, I look out over the audience and it only takes a moment of searching the crowd to find a couple standing side by side, both looking at their phones. These days, the telephone makes strangers out lovers who are in the same room.
Bonus question: Name the nightclubs in which the Old 97’s have performed over the years that have since, in fact, burned down.
Hint: I think two were located in Madison.
PS: Tweet your answer to the bonus question to me.
Tweet to @RhettMiller
Free download of “Niteclub” (solo acoustic version)
performed live at the Starry Plough Pub in Berkeley, CA
[NOTE: mid-song banter contains some curse words.]