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May 12

Sloan: “Autobiography”

Sloan -- One Chord to Another

Sloan's blue, slanty period.

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It’s been a long time since I featured a Sloan song here (nearly a year, to be exact — not since “Money City Maniacs“). And that’s just wrong. Because if there’s a band who is could use a boost in their “recognition in the U.S. of A.” factor, and who really really deserve that boost, it’s Sloan. Album after great album, they’ve been releasing music for close to 20 years, nearly all of it excellent and well worth your listening time. I would venture to say that they’ve been far and away the most consistent power-pop band over that time.

In fact, I’m thinking that maybe it’s about time for another “band week,” like I did with the Pixies last year, this time featuring music only by Sloan. We’ll see…but for now, here’s “Autobiography,” from their 1997 album, One Chord to Another. It’s one of their slower songs, sung (and probably written) by Chris Murphy (all the guys in Sloan sing, divided up fairly evenly on each album). It features very clever, often self-deprecating, lyrics, and a rhythm that at first brings Neil Young to mind, but then the more you listen the more you realize that it’s more like something from the Beatles’ White Album, somewhere between Paul’s and John’s contributions, with a bit of a Nick Lowe twist in the lyrics.

I’m writing “young and gifted”
In my autobiography
I figured, who would know
Better than me
I’m certainly the former
But I’m not so much the latter
But no one’s gonna read it
So I’m sure it doesn’t matter

Murphy proceeds to play on the “former/latter” lines with “foamer,” “lather,” “ladder,” and “conformer” — he’s got a knack for wordplay, and in this song he takes it to the point of nonsensical, but it sounds so good, it doesn’t really matter. And as good as “Autobiography” is, nearly every song on One Chord to Another is just as good.

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