Shuffle: Just Like Old Times (*****)

11Feb08

The greatest singer songwriters know how to twist a cliché inside out until it turns up a totally new thought, and the best recording right now are Todd Snider and Amy Rigby.  I mean, who really needs a 2006 song called “Just Like Old Times”? 

Well, here are the old times:  pool shark runs into his high school girlfriend 20 years later.  She’s a prostitute, he spends some of his recent profits on coke, “the best that I could find,” and they retire to a cheap hotel room not to fuck for love or money, but just to hang out, just like old times.  They do worry that her pimp and the cop who knocks on their door will prevent the reunion and confiscate the drugs. 

But the punch line – the turn of phrase that brings the whole other level of meaning turns on not just one but entirely two other clichés: 

Just like the old times
Living out our own kind of American dream
Your goal was always the same as mine
You didn’t want to throw a fishing line in that old main stream

Prostitution and pool sharking are not disappointments or embarrassments, they are outcomes of a useful working class relationship to the American dream, and they may not be perfect but they are good enough.  Anyway, they are jobs made possible by the real American economy.  Just Like Old Times — real folk music, the best that I can find.

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2 Responses to “Shuffle: Just Like Old Times (*****)”

  1. 1 David

    Well put; Apt twist at the end — sweet


  1. 1 Sleater-Kinney’s “Good Things”: The Greatest Song of All Time « Listening Around: In the spirit of Robert Christgau

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