The Hold Steady, Brooklyn’s own self-proclaimed bar band, return home for a four-night run at Brooklyn Bowl as they celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their breakout album “Boys and Girls In America.”
In honor of the event, amNewYork breaks down the key tracks from an album named the 64th best album of the decade according to Pitchfork.
‘Stuck Between Stations’
The album’s starts off with a blistering piano track courtesy of recently returning keyboardist Franz Nicolay and boasts a reference to “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac. Vocalist Craig Finn begins with the notion, “There are nights that I think Sal Paradise (the narrator from “On The Road”) was right/Boys and Girls in America have such a sad time together.” Not when they’re listening to this landmark record and its uplifting second single.
The lead single from the album introduced fans to one of many recurring characters to grace Finn’s songs. This particular subject focuses on a girl with the unique ability to predict the winner of every horse race, with the song title itself referring to a particular winner her boyfriend puts his money on. But as Finn articulates throughout this up-tempo crowd pleaser, all the money in the world won’t make your relationship problems go away. The female character returns in the 2010’s track “The Weekenders” off “Heaven Is Forever.”
The second and final track to reference the album title, the ballad stars three recurring characters who pop up across all six Hold Steady records: Holly, Gideon and Charlemagne. Holly and Gideon frequent the streets, often cited along side lyrics involving drug use, while Charlemagne serves as their dealer.
Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and The Reputation’s Elizabeth Elmore provide vocals for the protagonists of the song. The track tells the story of two lovers who find each other within the confines of the medical tent of a music festival, where two accidental overdoses nearly cost them their lives ... and their good times.
The album closer has become a sing-along favorite among the raucous crowds that gather to a Hold Steady show. It’s also a great example of Finn’s clever and often subversive, tongue in cheek writing style: “Southtown girls won’t blow you away/But you know that they’ll stay.”