"She Loves the Sunset" /
The Old 97s
Here they are again -- didn't I write about these guys, like, two weeks ago? But I've been doing a little housecleaning on my iTunes, and when I got to the Old 97s' most recent album, Blame It On Gravity, I found it just about impossible to prune down the numbers of tracks I'm keeping on my hard drive. And I'll let you know, I'm generally ruthless when it comes to editing the music on my hard drive.
"She Loves the Sunset" is the kind of song you want to play LOUD out the window on a summer afternoon like today. That cha-cha-cha beat is irresistible, though the pedal steel keeps it twangy; Rhett Miller's vocals lay on just enough ironic exaggeration to keep the alt in their alt.country sound. What's it about? Why, nothing much -- loving a girl who loves the sunset is about the extent of it. But the guy sounds so exhilarated, so dumbfounded by his own good luck, that it gets by on charm alone.
The more I listen, though, the more complicated this blissed-out love seems. First of all, the girl's got some issues: "She loves the sunset / She loves the cocktail bell / She loves the trembling, that evening brings, / Or might as well" -- he knows perfectly well that she's a teensy bit of a head case. (Aren't we all?) But he still loves her. Now I'm nervous -- is this love reciprocated? But no, verse two tells us: "She loves the sunset / She loves me also" (whew!). They seem well-matched -- "She loves me trembling, /And everything, oh I can tell / There is no other man in her dreams / Although every so often it seems -- " Then he breaks off, unable to complete that thought; instead he stubbornly repeats, "I love a girl / She loves the sunset."
"Oh, it’s the simple things," he declares in the bridge, " oh, but simple things are scarce / You’ve got to figure out / About what, and for whom, you care." Tangled grammar aside, he's getting at something important -- sometimes the best course in love is just to close your eyes and go with it.
In verse three, he stubbornly declares, "Let's say the trembling / That evening brings, / Is just the cold." (I love the way he carries that loaded noun "trembling" through all three verses -- that's craftsmanship.) Yep, he's made up his mind to be in love, and nothing's going to stop him. "I hope I’ll always be by her side," he adds, slowing down gingerly as he reflects, "Even if I’m just along for the ride . . . ." You can almost see him shake himself, then launch back into "I love a girl / She loves the sunset." It's the power of positive thinking.
A final cha-cha-cha and one last echoing twang, and they're outta here. Perfect.
She Loves the Sunset sample