1. The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site

Reconstruction Site 1. Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site

Mark VA introduced me to The Weakerthans sometime last year. The first song I remember hearing from them was “Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last call” It was rising up over the din of the Pickwick crowd one Tuesday night, and I can’t help but think of the Pickwick, and the gang I associate with that place, every time I hear that song. Some lyrics:

  • Let the golden oldies station crackle and come through.
    With a final benediction we’ll hum along to.
    Before we say goodnight
  • Let our talk about the ball game and the weather show we care.
    Like a sound we didn’t notice, until it stopped and left us there.
  • Let the toast to absent members push through the ceiling.

That song is about the Pickwick, as far as I was concerned… Eventually I got the whole album with this song one it… this album.. Reconstruction Site.. and in little time, every song became a favorite. In all fairness, I could have picked any of their other albums (Fallow or Left and Leaving…) and they’d easily be on this list, but I decided to pick the first one I got, and the one I have listened to the most. There are certain songs on the other albums that I wanted to mention before going on, though, that are absolutely amazing, and ought to be heard by the entire world: Left and Leaving, My Favorite Chords, None of the Above, and Exiles Among You…. again, to be fair, each album is filled from start to finish with amazing songs and fantastic lyrics.

What do I like about this (these) album(s)? First and foremost, the lyrics are fantastic. They range from funny (Penguins teaching French, anyone?), to sad, to happy, to mad, to just plain bizarre, but always charming in that “man, this is a good song” kind of way. Then the voice.. His (John K Samson) voice is perfect. Singable, strong, but charming in a “I’m not a pretentious jackass, I’m fun to hand out with” kind of way. The songs stylings are also really diverse, so you don’t feel sucked into a particular genre that you could tire of easily.

This particular album sports some excellent subjects.. A couple that stood out to me:

  • Plea from a Cat Named Virtue – A song from the point of view of a cat, about its owner.
    • And listen:
      About those bitter songs you sing
      They aren’t helping anything
      They won’t make you strong
    • I swear I’m going to bite you hard
      And taste your tinny blood
      If you don’t stop the self-defeating lies you’ve been repeating
      Since the day you brought me home
      I know you’re strong.
  • One Great City – Anthem to the hometown of Winnipeg:
    • The Guess Who suck, the Jets were lousy anyway
    • I Hate Winnipeg.
  • Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961) – One side of a conversation at just such a meal.
    • Just one more drink and then I should be on my way home
      I’m not entirely sure what your talking about
      I’ve had a really nice time but my dogs need to be fed
    • Comment allez-vous ce soir? Je suis comme ci comme ça.
      Yes, a penguin taught me French back in Antarctica.

Songs that I really like on the album (besides those already listed): Reconstruction site, A New Name for Everything, Times Arrow, and what has recently become my favorite song on the album: Benediction:
So you don’t get to be a saint.
Martyrs never last this long.
Guess I’ll never be the one to defeat desire in song.
Here’s a marker, here’s my naked skin, our Exhibit A.
Put a small x where I lost my way.

All the actors broke their legs,
and it’s too late to postpone.
The producer’s getting high, and the audience went home.
Smile and take your awkward bow. Turn and stumble off the stage.
Let the rain be your applause, every encore soothe your rage.
Squint with one eye, hum a show-tune, and wait for your ride to say,
“Oh, that’s where you must have lost your way.”

Megaphones in helicopters squeal, “Hey, are you okay?”
as searchlights circle where we lost our way.

All our accidents went purposeful and fell,
stripped of providence or any way to tell
that our intentions were intangible and sweet.
Sick with simple math and shy discoveries,
piled up against our impending defeat.

I listened to this album every day I drove to and from work for about 3 months, and never once got sick of it, and whenever I am in need of music, this is the first directory I add to the queue. If you haven’t heard a Weakerthans album yet, you really ought to give it a shot… I’m rather pleased that I did.

2 thoughts on “1. The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site

  1. I have “Plea from a Cat named Virtue” on Punk-o-Rama 10 I think, and I love that song, so I always thought about looking into these guys, however, I never really did (other then hearing a couple more songs, Benediction being one of them, and that is a great tune). However, I guess I’ll have to now.

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