100 for 2000 – #21. Nada Surf – Let Go

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2002 – #1. Nada Surf – Let Go
(Liberation)

Let Go by Nada Surf is my favourite album of the decade. I have worn it out. From the second I heard it til now, it is still an album I return to over and over. It has come to mean different things, my favourite songs have changed, but this album has always been in the forefront of my mind. I’ve quoted so many of it’s lyrics, ripped off many of it’s songs, still put songs from this album on mix CDs. This is my soundtrack to the 00s.

I had just started at Warners and was getting to know Simon Killen (where are you now, buddy?), an A&R guy at Liberation. We chatted about music and one day, months before it was released, he gave me this record and said “I think you’ll love this.” He wasn’t fucking wrong.

I had heard of Nada Surf – they had that one hit back in the day called Popular. I’m a huge fan of 90s one hit wonders but that song was not one of the better ones. So it was with some hesitation that I approached this. But they were a completely different band.

It’s pretty straight pop rock, with a shiny 80s vibe. But it’s the amazing songs – written mostly by  singer Matt Caws – and the theme of redemption that really hit you. It’s like the best You Am I, Springsteen or Replacements songs – there is a passion for change, that life can be better. But it’s not pub rock – it’s something far prettier.

I have stories for just about every song.

Blizzard of ‘77 is what they opened with when I first saw them. It was just about as empty as I’ve ever seen the Metro theatre, but I didn’t care. I had been raving on about this band so long, and thanks to Liberation and the low ticket sales, managed to drag quite a few people along. I thought I would explode with happiness when they played this song.

The Way You Wear Your Head – I think of sitting in a friends car, and hearing Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me, and finding out Nada Surf had ripped this bit off. I also remember Casey showing me how to play this song one afternoon at his old place.

Fruit Fly – I think about this song a lot, but the story I will tell here is Casey mentioning one day how clever the guitar bit at the beginning is, how he’s patting the strings. I had no idea what he was talking about until I saw them do it it live and it made sense. It was clever.

Blonde On Blonde – this was a hit single in some places. One of my many fave lines is “I have no time I want to lose/To people with something to prove”. Still a mantra of mine. I thought it was so cool to write a song about an album, an idea that I stole and eventually turned into a song about a series of Joni Mitchell albums.

Inside Of Love – I was pretty lonely for years, and this song was my little wrist slashing anthem. I remember so many late night calls to Marianne, one of my best friends living in the UK. With my sleeplessness and crazy hours, we were actually awake at the same time. And the lines

Making out with people
I neither know or like
I can’t believe what I do
Late at night

They were discussed a lot in our calls. I got this added to the first FBi radio full broadcast playlist, which is quite funny. Probably the one and only time they played this band.

Hi-Speed Soul – makes me think of Death Disco, and going out in Sydney. I wasn’t drinking, but I didn’t want to go home, and as a result I spent too much time in shitty indie dance clubs full of fuckheads. I would sit there for hours barely talking to anyone. What a waste. The only solice was a good song or two that I could dance to.

I also remember the strange shampoo commercial this was used in, and how I hope they made a lot of money on this.

No Quick Fix – same as above, the feeling that I can’t stay home at nights. The excitement of living the night life, the disorientation and the come down. We ripped this song off something savage in the Reservations. I was pretty sad to find this didn’t come on the US version of the album, and hence is not on my vinyl copy.

Killian’s Red – I never loved this song as much as some others until I saw it live. I like how I gave Lucy this CD only a couple of years ago and she told me her sister loved this song best. I’m glad someone does. I still think it’s a fantastic song – so sad and struggling.

La Pour Ca – it’s the yellow submarine of the album. I like it sometimes, I like the fact it’s in French (this band has a series of French tracks).

Happy Kid – One of my all time faves. It pretty much spells out how I felt for years. I was a happy kid, and I was not happy when I wasn’t happy. I shared this album with a special person at the time, and this was her favourite song as well.

I really love the line about how the candles make the bottles glow, a scene I’ve noticed on hundreds of bar tables ever since.

Treading Water – a lovely song, and again, ripped off shamelessly by my old band. This is probably the best example of that Replacements-ish ‘come on things can be better’ feel. Always rushing, always late…quite existential.

Paper Boats – an amazing song to finish on. Rightly or wrongly, I felt I had too many people coming at me and wanting things from me at this point in my life, especially emotionally. That awesome second verse – the dialogue of an argument – reminded me of too many uncomfortable situations. Tell me what’s wrong. What are you thinking about. How do you feel about this? Just people constantly taking strips off eachother to make themselves feel better. This song – it helped me realise there are certain types of people that aren’t good for me. We are set in our paths – and it’s the way it’ll always last.

There will be more stories to come. I’m not done with this album. I can’t believe I’ve known it for so long. That’s what a great album can do.

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