Saturday, September 8, 2012

15 years of Too Far to Care

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Old 97s' first major label release, 1997's Too Far to Care.  For metroplex scenester teens in the late 1990s, Too Far to Care was our White Album, our Led Zeppelin IV.  Our Doolittle.  Everything about it was cool: its title, its cover art, its impossibly clever songwriting.  Too Far to Care was the last CD I played in Fort Worth before packing my stereo to move to Austin for college; it was the first CD I played in my dorm room on West 22nd Street.  When I tried to write fiction, I wanted so badly to capture its tone that I kept it on repeat for days.

To mark the anniversary, the group's lead singer Rhett Miller tweeted that the band would play the whole album at their August 24th show in Dallas (wish I could have been there!).  Miller is also working on a series of mini-essays about each song on the album.  From his entry on "Niteclub":

One lyric in particular has evolved in a sad, marvelous way.  When I wrote "telephones make strangers out of lovers," I was looking at a pay phone (remember those?), and thinking how the false connection it provided served only to increase the emotional distance between lovers.  Now, when I sing the song, I look out over the audience and it only takes a moment of searching the crowd to find a couple standing side by side, both looking at their phones.  These days, the telephone makes strangers out of lovers who are in the same room.
He's going in reverse order, writing about the album's last songs first.  Miller is a smart writer--no surprise there--and the essays are full of fun little revelations (example: Miller once shared a garage apartment with Clark Vogeler of Funland & the Toadies).  Mostly, though, it's fascinating to read Miller--who still seems like a kid--writing about getting older.  Because if Too Far to Care is fifteen, we're all getting older, and fast.

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