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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name

posted by on September 3 at 12:15 PM

Why did I wait so long to look up the lyrics to “Banging Camp” by the Hold Steady? For months now, ever since I got back into that album, into it way deeper than I ever got the first time around, I’ve been getting kind of giddy every time it comes to the bridge. Specifically the part where Craig Finn sings/shouts, “And he said, ‘Hi! I like to party on the—” and that was as far as I could ever sing along, because the end of the line always got lost in Finn’s beery spittle before I could make it out on the way to, “—and I can’t stand it when the banging stops.”

For some reason, in my under-researched mythologizing of the Hold Steady and the midwest, I figured Finn was saying the name of some Twin Cities neighborhood or street or plaza—the last word kind of sounded like “Platz,” the German for place or plaza or square, and so I guessed there was maybe a German-settled neighborhood in Minneapolis/St. Paul with some square that had gotten a little too druggy. (The first part of the word sounded like “Plotter” or “Bahner” or “Platter,” the last of which apparently means to iron or press flat in German—not a likely name for a neighborhood, even for a city that’s flat all over.)

Anyway, last night, the urge to know that lyric, to sing along properly, finally drove me to spend the 30 seconds it would take to look the damn thing up (whilst listening to the recording, even). It’s “problem blocks.” “I like to party on the problem blocks.” Which, as babelfish would have it, translates to “Problemblöcke” in German. Whatever—blöcke, platz, it’s a great moment in the song, this scene of some guy walking up drunk to some girl at a party and boasting, in Finn’s outsized slur, about partying and hangovers, while the rising guitar leads and horns and headache-foreshadowing kick drum all build towards a classic Hold Steady crescendo. And now I know the words.

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Posted by zig zag | September 3, 2008 12:46 PM

Man I cannot stand The Hold Steady. I know they have that whole uplifting and posi-core vibe going for them but I just cannot get into dude's singing style at all. Every time I hear a HS song on KEXP I give it a try and just end up turning it off because I'm just waiting for the guy to get to the point of his ramble.

Posted by Brian | September 3, 2008 1:51 PM

@2 the whole key to Hold Steady is appreciating Craig Finn. of course, if you don't like his style, then you won't like the band because, really, the music isn't exactly ground-breaking. he's kinda like bob dylan: no one can really defend his singing, but it's really all in what he's saying.

Posted by brian cook | September 3, 2008 2:08 PM

@2 I am totally with you. I'm the only person I know who doesn't like that band. I just cannot stand his "singing" style.l He's basically talking. That, in and of iteself isn't such an offense, but for some reason the way he does it grates on my nerves.

Posted by Callie | September 3, 2008 3:40 PM

This really warranted a post?

Posted by Nick | September 3, 2008 3:45 PM

thats not music, just a bunch of talking!

Posted by lar | September 4, 2008 2:58 AM

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