Certain Songs #1534: Pete Yorn – “Closet”

Album: musicforthemorningafter
Year: 2001

Right around the time that musicforthemorningafter came out in late March, 2001, Rox and I decided that we might want to buy a house.

I’d recently switched jobs, back to working in San Francisco after over a year of commuting to Sunnyvale from Oakland — the dictionary definition of Hell — but the housing market was heating up, and we thought that maybe it was our last chance to buy one. So every Sunday morning, we’d look up all of the open houses — I think there was a real estate section that came with either the Saturday or Sunday San Francisco Chronicle — map them out with a Thomas Guide, and then spend Sunday afternoon driving around Oakland looking at the ones we found interesting.

And then, almost immediately after we started this ritual, the company I’d been working at — it was called “Memestreams,” and for the life of me, I can’t remember what they were even on about (always a good sign) — started going under, and most recently hired became the first to be fired, and I found myself out of a job for the first time since I left Video Zone in 1994.

So much for the open houses, right? Wrong.

Instead, as a token of hope for the future — that I would land on my feet during one of the worst times for tech, well, ever — we kept right on. Every Sunday afternoon, we’d load into her Volkswagen Cabrio, her driving, me with my notebooks listing houses and Thomas Guide to navigate through the winding hills of Oakland & Berkeley, all the while listening to musicforthemorningafter.

Sure, we listened to other music, I’m sure, but nothing as much as musicforthemorningafter, which is probably at least part of why I love a song like “Closet” so much: it’s forever linked to perhaps the only good memories of what was otherwise an absolutely terrible time.

“This is a song called ‘Closet.’ Closet” Pete York helpfully announces at the outset of my favorite song on musicforthemorningafter, which feedbacks into a big fuzzy spongy rock ‘n’ roll riff that I would have loved 40 years ago and will love 40 years from now.

Oh Billie I want you so
I’m trying to meet you
Too many things they don’t know
Too many repeatings
Of beatings

“Closet” is one of those songs where the words have dark overtones — “too many repeatings of beatings” — but the music is so joyful and catchy, it’s almost impossible not to sing along with, especially on the chorus.

So I’m walking around your closet
I want you to say my name again
So don’t stop don’t stop don’t turn around

Like a lot of the songs on musicforthemorningafter, there are production touches that get more layered the deeper we get into the song, percussion, guitars, guitars, backing vocals, and on the bridge, whoops and handclaps (!), and and the end the words start jumbling on top of each other while everything else carries on until finally “Closet” slams itself shut.

We never did find a house in Oakland, though I can still remember a few that we would have loved to buy, had I only a job and a down payment, and before 2001 was over, we’d find ourselves in L.A., but still listening to musicforthemorningafter.

“Closet”

“Closet” live acoustic, 2014

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