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May 11

Brendan Benson: “Metarie”

Brendan Benson -- Lapalco

Got enough to share with everyone, Brendan?

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I don’t especially like discovering artists through hearing their music in a TV commercial. I guess it’s a pride thing: something to do with a corporate entity finding good music before I did — there’s just something antithetical about that for someone who enjoys the hunt for new music. But on the occasions that it has happened, I have to admit they chose well. This was most certainly the case when I first heard Brendan Benson’s “Tiny Spark” on a VW (edit: turns out it was actually Saturn) commercial in 2002.

That song led me to Benson’s fantastic album from that year, Lapalco, filled with other similarly excellent tracks, including this one, “Metarie.” Starting with him singing along with a lone lo-fi acoustic guitar, the song slowly builds to a powerful peak, while never quite losing its bedroom-recording feel. The lyrics are funny/sad/self-deprecating, a running commentary from the point of view of the singer, who falls for a woman who doesn’t exactly see him in the same light, triggering an epic bout of self-pity. Haven’t we all been there at some point? Yes or no, the song leaves an impression.

Side note: Although Benson is perhaps now better known as co-leader of The Raconteurs (along with Jack White), his solo work stands on equal footing. Don’t necessarily assume that White is the biggest talent in that group.

(No YouTube video this time…I couldn’t locate one for the Lapalco version. So I’m going with a Grooveshark widget.)

6 Comments

  1. Dave C says:

    Love the album, but 30 seconds search on Wikipedia would have pointed you towards knowing Lapalco is Brendan’s second album…

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      You’re absolutely right, and I should have known better. I actually thought of One Mississippi for a long time as an EP, confusing it with Wellfed Boy, and I even have some of the songs from it (and I’m fixing that oversight now by getting the whole album) . . . but obviously it’s been hard to untrain my brain from thinking of this as his debut. Thanks for pointing that out — I’ll fix it in the post.

  2. Matt D says:

    Dave, not that it matters but it was a Saturn commercial. The reason I know is I discovered The Walkmen because of one of the other commercials in the same campaign called Childhood that featured the song, “We’ve Been Had.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o3FOXypot0

    The spot you’re referring to I believe was “College.”

    1. Dave Gershman says:

      It appears you’re right…I could’ve sworn it was VW, but upon searching for it when writing the original post couldn’t locate a video of it. I think I assumed it was VW because they were also the ones with the good taste of using Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” in an ad. Thanks for the info!

      1. Matt D says:

        I can see why you’d think that. That campaign had a very VW kind of vibe to it, simple and music driven. I also work in the ad industry. I’m torn because while I’d love to someday use a cool song in an ad, I too don’t like discovering bands through advertising.

        1. Dave Gershman says:

          Yeah, “selling out” isn’t what it used to be — but still…

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