The way that brother and sister Barbara and Ethan Gruska’s voices work together on songs like “Losers” is oddly the way Paul Simon’s works with the harmony of his own voice.
The Gruskas sound like Simon on “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” when they sing, “Don’t care bout being a winner / Or being smooth with women / Or going out on Fridays / Being the life of parties / Don’t care bout being harder / Or being daddy’s favorite.”
They become heated in the execution of their manifesto, and there’s a banging on the right side of a piano, sending us pulsating, ringing high notes that make us feel as if a balloon is going to pop or a tire explode unexpectedly on the highway, as everyone in the vehicle is singing along, at the tops of their lungs. It begins as a soft, acoustic strummer, a ballad of moping, self-destructive attitudes, about not getting your hopes up because, frankly, we’re all just one in a million and damn if those aren’t horrible odds to try and defeat. They sing about there always being someone better than you are, even if you’re the best. However, the song becomes something altogether more sure-footed in a hurry, as more instruments join in the fray and suddenly we’re reminded that there’s a better way to think about our minor roles, with the two singing, “I don’t wanna be laid down / No, I don’t wanna die knowing / That I spent so much time when I was young / Just trying to be the winner / So I wanna make it clear now / I wanna make it known / That I don’t care bout any of that shit no more… / There will always be someone worse than you / Sister don’t let it get to your head.”
We’re only as minor or as major as we make ourselves, or as we treat ourselves. We can let so much go and we often just choose not to do that, for whatever reasons. As writers, Barbara and Ethan have taken it upon themselves to discover inside, what it means for them to deal with the inconsistencies between what’s perceived to be expected and what actually should be expected out of these relatively few days that we get to dress ourselves and live independently, out here amongst the roads, the hills, the waters, the windows and all these other people trying to figure out where to stand, how to move, how to look and act and who to share themselves with, who to make others with.