22. Live – Throwing Copper

cd cover 22. Live – Throwing Copper

Live. I like Live a lot. I got into them about the time everyone else did, shortly after Throwing Copper was released, and I, Alone, Selling the Drama, and All Over You were being played on the radio, and the I, Alone video was getting some airplay on MTV’s 120 minutes (which, back in the day, was really a good show. sigh [insert comment about MTV completely sucking here]). In typical fashion, I listened to this album endlessly, and quickly associated most of the songs with people, events, situations, etc… Beth and I listened to the album quite a bit when we were all down in Louisiana on a spring break serve project, and she mentioned liking the song Iris, so naturally I associated that song with her. So when that all ended, I stopped listening to the album completely, and it sat for about a year. Eventually Live came out with another album (Secret Samadhi), and I decided to give the old album another listen, and I realized that I still really, really liked it. For the first time, I started really paying attention to the lyrics as well, and started to realize many of them weren’t at all saying what I believed they were saying the first time I listened to the album, and others I just didn’t understand at all. After doing a lot more listening, and some research, I started to get a handle on where things were coming from. Turns out the the lead singer, Ed Kowalcyzk, has some fairly funky ideas about life, death, religion, the universe, and everything. While I tend not to agree with quite a bit of what he’s saying (Live can be almost militantly anti-Christian at times), I found (and still find) it fascinating to listen to him put into words these ideas that obviously mean so much to him. He’s got a great voice, which helps, obviously, but there’s more to it [on this album especially]. There’s an emotion and energy in each song that really forces you to take notice… You’re not just sitting back and listening to Jimmy Buffet warble about cheeseburgers with this album. I’ve mentioned before that I like songs where the lyrics are good poetry in and of themselves (rather than just simplistic poppy choruses and hollow verses. I like lyrics that I would find interesting to read apart from the music. This album has that going for it as well. There is frequent use of colorful metaphors. One my favorites is the line “Pale blue colored iris presents the circle” in Lightning Crashes. The song is about the circle of life and death, as a child is born and a mother dies. This circle of life is seen in the unending circle of the iris. I guess some people would find that lame, but it struck me as being clever.

I’m also a big fan of songs where there are two things being sung at the same time. (i.e. you have at least 2 people singing, but they’re singing different words, but the whole thing flows together quite nicely).. I’m sure there’s a musical term for it […googling…failure. Seeking help… failure. Anyone know that?] Anyway, the song Pillar of Davidson has that going on at the end of it, and I think it sounds excellent. [then there’s always the trick of trying to sing both parts of it while driving in your car…] Polyphony! Thanks Christa!

The other big thing I liked about this album was that I learned to play most of the songs on the album quite quickly. (I believe that the hardest part was learning how to drop the tuning a half step.) When I can play along to the music, I tended to listen to it a lot more, and I’d listen a lot more closely.

Favorite songs: I, Alone, Pillar of Davidson, Horse, Lightning Crashes, Selling the Drama, All Over You.

Song lyrics:

when all that’s left to do
is reflect on what’s been done
this is where sadness breaths
— Dam at Otter Creek

We are by and large the same
— Stage

warm bodies, I sense
are not machines that can only make money
— Pillar of Davidson

I tried to think of something deep to say
but my well is dripping dry today
— Horse

8 thoughts on “22. Live – Throwing Copper

  1. Not in my top 25, but an excellent choice nonetheless. I, too, listened to this one incessantaly. I think I still prefer “Mental Jewelry” (Beauty of Gray is my favorite Live song), but this one is a great album. My favorite: Waitress.

  2. I can’t stand Live. I think they’re awful. They got played way to much when this came out. I was just glad that most people had forgotten about them when their next album came out.

  3. polyphony, while technically correct, applies to any form of melody, not just singing. not sure if you wanted the term for multiple simultaneous vocal parts or not, if such a term even exists.

  4. Jonathan -> Yes, Mental Jewelry is excellent. My fav on that album is You are the World. I’ve grown fond of all the Live albums, with particular albums becoming my favorite for spans of time. I like the progression you can hear from one album to the next. There’s a noticable movement from the almost folksy (think late 80’s REM) stuff of Mental Jewelry and some of Throwing Copper to the heavier stuff of Secret Samadhi and The Distance to Here, and it continues to change with their newer albums (V and Birds of Pray).

    Tuuk -> Yet another “they got played too much so they can’t be good” arguement. Well, I’ll add that to the endless line of “Your music is terrible because I don’t like them” comments I’ve grown fond skimming then ignoring.

    Jeff -> Yeah, it was a bit of a stretch, but I think it fits. On a few sites they mentioned that a round was a good example of polyphony, so while not limited to singing, it can certainly include it. Either way, I think it sounds good.

  5. Tuuk isn’t saying that Live is awful because they got played too much. He could very well be saying “Live is awful” and “Live got played too much”.

    He also doesn’t say “They are awful”, he says “I think they’re awful”. Which is entirely true.

  6. Joel -> You’re correct, of course, in what you point out about what Tuuk says. What we can infer however (and it would probably be held up in court) is that Tuuk’s main gripe with Live is how much they got played after TC was released. Otherwise, he would have given other cogent arguments to back up his hatred.

  7. I’ll agree that the “I think they are awful” comment was not incorrectly stated, and was pleased to see it written as such. I’ll even give Tuuk props for consistently authoring such comments that way. I think we’ve had this conversation more than twice at the Pickwick.
    I still find the argument “They got played too much” kinda dumb. Is it really new to us that radio stations and MTV don’t play a wide variety? It’s unfortunate, certainly. Back when I was stuck at the greenhouse listening to country music for 9 hours every day, I was right there with you complaining that the same 4 songs got played over and over again. So I brought in a tape player. Problem solved. I stopped listening to the radio a while ago, and I can’t say I miss it.
    Hell, at this point, I’m just glad the phrase “huffs dong” wasn’t used.

  8. I guess I agree that the ‘played way too much’ argument is kind of lame. I was right with you when you said that Ben Folds Five is really good, and that Brick got played to much. However that doesn’t make it a bad song (for a while I was sick of it, too). That really isn’t my case against Live either. I wrote some stuff about their lyrics being ‘deep’ in a mocking tone, but I deleted it. In the end, I don’t just like it…. Oh yeah, and by the way, I never authored the comment ‘Huffs Dong’. As I’ve repeatedly said, I just quoted The Lawrence Arms website when they were talking about Dashboard Confessional.

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