FFWDing to the Best Part: “Santa Monica,” Everclear (1995)

In 2004, I was at a friend’s wedding and wound up chatting with an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in three or so years. At the time I knew him, he’d been studying for med school. “So … are you in med school?” I asked, innocently enough. “Nope … I wish,” he somberly answered.  I then inquired about the one other thing I remembered about the kid … his favorite band, Everclear. “Well, they just broke up a few months ago,” he glumly reported.

I really just need to stop talking to people.

Frontman Art Alexakis has since re-formed the band, W. Axl Rose-style, but whatever their lineup or state of existence, they will always be known for a handful of radio-friendly, “alternative” rock jams, and they’ll always be inarguably better than Sugar Ray.  My favorite Everclear song is their first mainstream hit, “Santa Monica,” which is a pretty solid ditty from top to bottom.  Kind of coarsely anti-romantic, energetic, simple but powerful … a new, shaggier generation of surf rock.  It’s also one of those songs in which the title does not appear in the lyrics (see also: “Laid,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).

Best part? 1:23. The song’s first verse (0:07) kicks off with a solo guitar backing. The second verse (0:29)? Adds a bass and high hat (and big black boots, and old suitcase). Post-hook, the third verse — in addition to a touch of syncopation (“I am still dreaming of your — ::downbeat:: — face…”) brings in a relative cacophony of rock.

 

Having listened to these lyrics with a more critical ear, they appear strangely contradictory. One on hand, it’s a sweet imagining of a lovers’ retreat amid the apocalypse (“we can live beside the ocean … watch the world die.”) On the other, he just wants a “place to be alone [dammit],” after listing a litany of things he doesn’t want to be for his (erstwhile?) paramour. Sleepwalk dance?

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One thought on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “Santa Monica,” Everclear (1995)

  1. This is one of those bitter “You suck for leaving me” songs that gives unwitting insight into the real identity of the story’s villain. Good for you, girl. Don’t look back.

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