Good Old War

Daytrotter Session - Apr 10, 2012

Good Old War – Daytrotter Session – Apr 10, 2012
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  1. Welcome to Daytrotter
  2. Amazing Eyes
  3. Calling Me Names
  4. Coney Island
  5. It Hurts Every Time

One of the ingenious things about having three-part harmonies and significant vocal contributions from all three members of a group can lead you perfectly astray when trying – or attempting – to get at the crux of a lyrical idea. Good Old War’s Keith Goodwin might, technically, be considered the band’s lead singer, but the way that the songs here on the band’s first session with us play out, we can’t be sure if we’re just hearing about a specific girl or we’re hearing about a whole cluster of them. We don’t necessarily hope that there are numerous ladies being described here because we’re not sure that they’re all that great (or, more specifically, we’re not sure that they’re painted in the most flattering of lights), but it would take the air out of what could be a real mountain of tension, allowing it to be distributed evenly over everyone in the group. It could just be an interesting group dynamic that they’re all involved with women who give them nothing but horribly mixed signals. They’re great one day and then they’re driving them to the loony bin the next day, only to circle back around and find a way or ways to win them back over on the third day, reinstating the cycle.

Goodwin, guitarist Dan Schwartz and drummer Tim Arnold, who this same day also performed as Anthony Green’s backing back for his session taping in San Francisco, sing about women that probably aren’t really bad trouble, but they seem as if they’re mostly no good for them, only they’re having such a hard time convincing themselves of such sound wisdom. These somewhat bluegrass/mostly folk songs about women and travels are steeped in stories about the ones that you might want to reconsider holding onto. They’re the kinds of people who are genuinely, probably pretty okay, but only for someone else. Most of the time, it’s a tough thing to conclude, so you plow forth and you just let it bear out.

The woman in “It Hurts Every Time” seems to have a problem with sticking around. Well, it could be over-sensitivity to absence, or it could be an inability to accept what’s really going on here. If we’re to take the entire narrative into consideration, we’re thinking that she flies the coop and somehow finds a way to slip back in to open arms and very little scolding. Goodwin sings, “The last time I saw you/I fell asleep staring at the stars/Can someone tell me why it hurts every time/I look away and you’re gone.”

If this is the same woman that we hear about in “Amazing Eyes,” a deceptive title if there ever was one, then it’s no shocker that she gets away with it. This one is described this way: “You have amazing eyes/The right one’s suspicious and the left one wants my love/I don’t care what you think I’ve done/I know I’ve never meant no harm to anyone/I know I never meant no harm at all.” She’s done nothing wrong and the protagonist is having to answer for his own auxiliary actions – that smoke and those mirrors. She’s able to stay dangling and his friends just wonder what his problem is. He explains it simply as his own problem, but one that he’d like to keep, singing, “When I see you in the half-light/It seems so fine.” It’s a whole lotta doom and a few daisies.

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