Monday, April 5, 2010

A Great Trip to the Bottom of the Barrel

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: Swallowed By the Cracks
ARTIST: David + David
SONGWRITERS: David Baerwald / David Ricketts
ALBUM: Boomtown

One day my mom was on the Internet looking for relatives and found this fan page. It seemed my music was important to a lot of them. I was genuinely touched by their interest.
(David Baerwald)

Rarely has an album sounded so good while being so depressing as David + David's sole release, 1986's Boomtown. The album wanders through the bottom of the barrel of life in the booze and drug subculture of Los Angeles. The album yielded a minor hit, "Welcome to the Boomtown," complete with those aforementioned pictures of the seedy side: a person dealing "dope out of Denny's" (certainly not the best advertisement a restaurant can pick up) and another one dying because "the ambulance arrived too late."

The same problems of the characters in "Welcome to the Boomtown" plague the three protagonists in the brilliant "Swallowed By the Cracks," the highlight of the Boomtown album. The story is told in first person about a man, his girlfriend Eileen, and Eileen's brother and the narrator's best friend, Steve. They have lofty goals: Steve is a writer, Eileen is an actress, and the narrator is a dancer who has dreams of becoming a famous choreographer. The dreams turn to nightmares: "Stevie ran away and got bored, Eileen took a job in a store, while I became this drunken old whore." They were determined not to be "swallowed by the cracks, fallen so far down like the rest of those clowns begging bus fare back," yet that is exactly what happened. The dancer and writer and actress, instead of pursuing their occupational goals, end up "getting drunk with strangers, telling lies, and singing along with the jukebox."

In the title song from his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Dwight Yoakam referred to "this tinsel land" as "this town [that] can shatter dreams." David + David expounded on that thought explicitly in this superb song, a song that showed the promise of where this duo could have gone had they continued to make music together.


When My Rowboat Comes In
When I Lift Up My Head
Rose of My Heart
Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Stealin' Time
Starting Tomorrow
Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

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