To the casual listener, The Hold Steady might just sound like the bar band with the most narrative smarts in the world. But those who have followed the band through their five albums know that the songs are rife with recurring characters and themes from previous releases.
“It’s a rewards program, if you will,” says singer Craig Finn.
Take, for example, the third song on The Hold Steady’s latest album, “Heaven is Whenever,” a song called “The Weekenders,” which opens with the esoteric line, “There was that whole weird thing with the horses.”
“Well, that’s a reference to the song ‘Chips Ahoy!’ from our record ‘Boys and Girls in America.’ It’s about a girl who’s clairvoyant and knows what horse is going to win in a horse race,” explains Finn. “I’m not on Facebook, but my girlfriend is, and seeing her connect with old friends made me think, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the people from that last record reconnected after a few years apart?’”
The aforementioned casual listener should take note: No footnotes are required to enjoy these songs. They all rock in whatever mysterious key it is that makes a listener unconsciously pump his or her fist upon hearing the chunky twin guitars and Finn’s party dude slur, whether you know what he’s talking about or not.
“I also like to keep it a little more vague, so people can insert their own lives to it,” he says, “which is what I think is part of what’s great with songs.”
The Hold Steady
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