(Editor's note, 9/11/08: I changed the title of this post. Why? Do you have any idea how many goddamn people beat me to the punch when it can to referencing "Certain Songs"? How dumb do I look? Pretty goddamn dumb. Oh, well...on with the show.)
I can't talk about the Hold Steady without talking about Craig & Tad's former band, Lifter Puller. I'll go more in depth on Lifter Puller at some yet-to-be-determined date, but, simply put, I was and still am totally gay for Lifter Puller. While I thrilled to get to see their penultimate show at Brownie's in NYC, it broke my heart to know that I'd never get to see them again. I listen to Lifter Puller now, 5 years after they broke up, and it still sounds fresher than most everything out there now. What a gang of total, complete fucking bad asses.
A few months after L.P. broke up, Dave Voyles told me he'd gotten ahold of the demo for the new project. Said he'd burn me a copy. So what you have here is what he handed me at the Ottobar sometime in the fall of 2002: the Hold Steady demo. I haven't really seen this online to date, but I really haven't been looking. The thing I like most about this recording is that it's recorded as a 4-piece. Franz Nicolay doesn't play keys here, so the E-Street Band influence isn't quite as pronounced. I kinda dig it more that way. Also of note is the appearance of Choking Songs (for Smoking), also known as Milkcrate Mosh. To the best of my knowledge this only appeared on a 7" released by Empirical Recordings, but, again, I could be wrong. What the hell do I know?
Oh, yeah, below's a picture of the Hold Steady at their second show ever, playing to about 100 people at the old Talking Head in Baltimore. I was there, up front and singing along, acting like some hipster scumbag. The Hold Steady smoked my ass. The Oranges Band played that night, too. They also smoked that ass. I figure this show is top-five all time, easily. Do you remember that Simpsons quote, "They'll never know the joys of a monkey knife fight."? Yeah, you'll never know the joys of Craig Finn sweating whiskey onto your cheapo digital camera. And if you do, well, god bless ya.
Yes, what I'm implying basically is that I'm better than you, in this one, insignificant thing.
The Hold Steady - 6 song demo
RIYL: Lifter Puller, Bruce Springsteen, Ellen Foley, Dillinger 4
...the thing we do instead of the things we're supposed to do...