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?