by alex wexelman
There’s a peculiar creative force that comes out of convalescing. The annals of art are filled with apocryphal stories of overcoming ailments, which inspire career paths. Frida Kahlo first picked up a paintbrush following a bus accident that left her disabled; Henri Matisse was on track to get a law degree when he got appendicitis, was bedridden and received a box of paints from his mother; Neil Young wrote “Down By the River,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Cinnamon Girl” while delirious in bed with a 103 °F (39 °C) fever; and Bob Dylan has created an entire mythos surrounding his supposed “motorcycle accident”.
I’ll explore the topic further if I ever get around to writing the book on it, but for now here’s a quote from halfsour’s Matthew Mara: “Vinyl Siding is the kind of song that happens when you’ve got a little too much time on your hands and a massive pain in your leg from getting shingles a few decades before you are supposed to. it’s hard to write more than three lines in that kind of state, y’know?”
Recuperating from the shingles is a perfect time to channel a case of the doldrums into a quick hit of pop-punk antidote. “Vinyl Siding” is the Boston trio’s second single and appropriately its “three lines,” born out of having nothing to say and nothing to do, are about having nothing to say and nothing to do. But Vinyl Siding is a song about nothing in the same way that Seinfeld is a show about nothing—a misunderstood Zen philosophy oversimplified into a catchy slogan.
At the heart of Vinyl Siding is the silence we shroud ourselves in when an argument is on the horizon and we just don’t have the energy to enter into it. “And I’ll go on,” Mara sings, his vocals distorted in overdrive, “go on like nothing’s wrong.” In between those two lines, Zoë Wyner interject “don’t go on” creating a call-and-response that sounds like a couple rehashing the same old spat.
You don’t have to be sick to enjoy an afternoon in bed, listening to “Vinyl Siding” over and over. Clocking in at fewer than two minutes, it’s hard not to hit that replay button.
‘Charm School’ LP is released on vinyl/cassette on on October 14th,
via Disposable America and Too Far Gone Records.