“Certain songs,”Craig Finn sang on The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me, “they get scratched into our souls.” That’s the basis of our latest feature: a look at the songs that have done just that. These aren’t necessarily our favorite songs or the songs that we think are the best, but rather songs that — every single time we hear them — instantly transport us back to a place and time in which that song is forever intertwined. This is one of the reasons we so hate the RIAA’s attempted stranglehold on the dissemination of music: you never know where that next certain song is going to come from.
It’s around 5:00am on a balmy August morning in 1981, and I’ve not yet been to sleep. I’m in the passenger seat of Larry’s car — a light blue Dodge Colt with a long white CB antenna mounted on the back bumper — and we’re driving back to Fresno from L.A. after a marathon concert by Bruce Springsteen. Tim is asleep in the back, and as we approach Fresno, the sun starts peeking over the Sierra Nevadas.
And the song that’s blaring from the cassette deck: “Ramble Tamble.” I think about this every time I hear that song.
Here’s the other thing: I’m almost positive that this memory is false.