Certain Songs #1535: Pete Yorn – “Pass Me By”

Album: Day I Forgot.
Year: 2003.

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Ah, the pitfalls of making a great debut album. Because what do you do next? For every Led Zeppelin, U2 & R.E.M. — where the debut was just the beginning of a long career of amazing music — there’s a Moby Grape, Violent Femmes or Pete Yorn, where the debut was the peak.

At least for me, of course. Which isn’t to say I didn’t have high hopes for Pete Yorn’s second album, 2003’s Day I Forgot, which if I was mean I might say was short for One Day I Forgot How To Write Good Songs, because it was a dud, despite having essentially the same production team — plus ringers like Peter Buck — behind it.

That said, there were a couple of songs on Day I Forgot that rivaled the best songs on musicforthemorningafter, and totally overshadowed the rest of the record. “Long Way Down,” had big guitars and a big aching hook, and “Pass Me By” was just about perfect.

Featuring a guitar hook that may or may not have been played by Peter Buck, but was certainly at least stolen from him, “Pass Me By” hit its stride with the coda, which several overdubbed Pete Yorns kept singing over that guitar hook until the fade.

Watch me now
Try
Couldn’t walk down that line
Just pass me by
Just passing by

Yorn came back with 2006’s Nightcrawler, which was much more consistent than Day I Forgot, though none of the songs rose to Certain Songs status. After that was a dud of a duets album with Scarlett Johansson, and while he’s still releasing records, I don’t think I’ve heard one in a decade. And while it’s possible that I’ve underrated his output, it’s equally possible that I’ve always overrated musicforthemorningafter. But probably not.

“Pass Me By”

“Pass Me By” performed live in 2017

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