Certain Songs #608: The Hold Steady – “Spinners”

hold steady spinners Album: Teeth Dreams
Year: 2014

Near the end of 1982, I got to see The Clash open for The Who. Which, at the time was my current favorite band opening for my all-time favorite band.

I was pretty sure even at the time that was never going to happen again. Until it did, when in 2014 Rox & I flew out to Minneapolis-St. Paul and saw The Hold Steady open for The Replacements.

That was an experience that I’ll write about more when I get to The Replacements, but for now, I’ll just say that I can’t imagine any opening band being happier than The Hold Steady was that night, and even better, how much The Replacements fan base were also clearly into The Hold Steady. Way more than The Who’s fan base were into The Clash.

Of course, a lot of things have changed since 1982.

One of those things that haven’t changed, though, is the feeling described in the bridge of “Spinners,” the lead single from The Hold Steady’s 2014’s rebound album, Teeth Dreams.

Once you’re out there everything’s possible
And even the bad nights
They aren’t all that terrible
Loosen your grip, it feels so incredible
Let the city live your life for you tonight

The sympathetic story of a woman going out there night after night and trying to dance her heartbreak away, “Spinners” is full of the roaring guitars, pounding drums and overall focus that characterized Teeth Dreams.

And yet.

Outside of “Spinners” and rolling & tumbling “Almost Everything,” there weren’t a lot of songs on “Teeth Dreams” that approached the glories of their first four records. And here’s what I don’t know: is it them or is it me?

I mean, for the most part, it’s normal: most bands do their best work early, and everything else is downhill from here. There are exceptions: Some Girls, Automatic For The People and Achtung Baby! were all made by veteran bands who had previously seen the quality dip.

But those are exceptions, of course, so I’m curious to see if anything comes out of Franz Nicolay rejoining The Hold Steady for the 10th anniversary of Boys and Girls in America. While I sometimes thought his keyboards were too much, maybe they were actually the exact right ingredient.

The good news is that the songwriting continues to be strong – and that includes both of Craig Finn’s solo albums — so it’s possible that they catch fire the next time they go into the studio.

I’m gonna stay positive.

Official Video for “Spinners”

“Spinners” performed live on World Cafe, 2014

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