Queen of the Supermarket

10Feb09

(David writing)

Springsteen didn’t come anywhere close to making the definitive 9/11 album — as far as I could tell there wasn’t one. But five years later he did make what will likely stand as the definitive Bush album, at least the only one that sold shit (if Jon Langford was going to break through he would have done it with The Mekons Rock N Roll (1989) , not All the Fame of Lofty Deeds (2004), and it seems all too clear that Todd Snider will never find (regain?) his audience. )   Accusatory, hopeful when he can get to it, mournful when it seems appropriate, cold eyed and not immune to sang-froid, grounded in the everyday, Magic was the first time he’d found the penetrating words he was looking for with the music they demand in 20 years.

16 months later, we remember why Bruce takes his time putting records together. Lotsa hooks, not enough point. The music’s sleek enough to make something  listenable an 8-minute western saga, and if “What Love Can Do” tells us nothing about him and Patti, “Life Itself” may. But the one stroke is  “Queen of the Supermarket”  . The same guy who was gazing at the young females in their seasonal attire last time we tuned in  has moved on to a woman who’s perhaps more age-appropriate and certainly a bit more accessible — she notices him back, for one thing, and you can imagine him sheepishly asking if she’d like to share that nice chop she just bagged.

I dimly recall a small r& b (new wave) hit from the early ’80s called “Checkin’ out the Checkout Girl,” but the great supermarket songs have either been metaphor (The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket”) or customers’ meeting place (The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping”). But Springsteen noticed that even though the person at the register is your captive audience, even that fleeting, repeating meeting can be the basis for the community he’s always looking for.

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4 Responses to “Queen of the Supermarket”

  1. 1 todd snider

    gee thanks
    its an honor to be written off by such a talent
    he said sarcasticlly

    someone brought your writting to me
    i didnt think it was interesting
    it seemed arrogant and arbitrary and uneccesary to me
    cruel as well (at least towards me)

    good luck finding and regaining things of your own

    todd

  2. 2 schweitzito

    I noted you as one of three people who made definitive albums about Life Under Bush, which I think read as high praise. If I suggested it was somehow your fault that you hadn’t regained the audience you had on a major label, that could be considered cruel. I don’t see how I did that. I hope your audience is bigger than I fear it is — it certainly doesn’t include enough critics. Whatever you think of critics (not a whole lot, I gather), they’re one of the better ways for indie acts to gain audience. I blame critics for this failure, not you — your songs, especially on East Nashville Skyline and The Devil You Know, are unapologetic and blunt, and often clever and poignant on several levels. If critics don’t find this sexy enough, well, fuck ’em. But that doesn’t help you find your audience. And I hope you do.

    Mentioning you at all may have been unnecessary, but it wasn’t arbitrary — you and Springsteen and Jon Langford captured what seemed to me the right combination of righteoous rage (ofted sublimated as humor), and dogged commitment, and vivid eye for detail necessary to capture what this regime felt like.

    Arrogant? I’ll stand accused.

  3. 3 Todd Snider

    hey man – Sorry ..I responded quicker than I should have…I respect critics, they have been good to me.
    I mis understood , and lashed out.
    if it makes you feel better , I am in therapy.
    Walk Hard
    Todd

    • 4 schweitzito

      Todd –
      No sweat — I published quicker than I should have. I might have cleared it up ahead of time. If it makes you feel better, I should be in therapy. Lots of love for your work, and lots of respect for you. It’s funny — I’ve been writing about music very occasionally since 1986 (strictly amatoor — never paid more than a freebie, which is more than I’m pulling now), and this is the first time any artist ever wrote back. Thanks for poppin’ my cherry.

      David


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