In “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” with impending doom, Keira Knightly’s character grabs several records before fleeing her home with the hopes of listening to them one last time. The Essentials is an ongoing series about the ten, in no particular order, albums I would grab in such a similar situation.
I was once asked to write why I love punk rock. One of the reasons I wrote was the lyrics often expressed the feelings I had. How I felt like an outcast, and that was okay because there were other outcast feeling the same way. It’s always nice to know the feelings I’m experiencing have also been experienced by others. These sentiments are expressed, almost verbatim, with Less Than Jake’s opening lyrics on their album Anthem, “Welcome home outcast because I know how you have felt over the years.” The whole album is filled with lyrics I feel make for a nice anthem for my life. Perhaps the most aptly titled album in my music library.
Part of what makes Less Than Jake, and Anthem specifically, so relatable is a consistent theme of being trapped. Whether it’s physically trying to leave the town or relationship you just can’t escape (“Look What Happened,” “Escape From the A-Bomb House”). Or if it’s more being trapped in the past and old memories (“The Ghost of You and Me”). I would guess there have been times we have all felt such confinements.
The waning words before the bonus Cheap Trick cover are a reminder, without a doubt, “that screws fall in and screws they fall out.” Meaning nothing lasts forever. Those feelings of wanting to escape are the screws falling out. Just give it some time, and move forward and the screws will fall in. I love that. I often forget that, but Less Than Jake is always there to remind me.
“The Brightest Bulb has Burned Out/Screws Fall Out,” is the name of that song, and it’s in my top 3 Less Than Jake songs. Also in the top 3 is “Look What Happened.” Part of it has to do with a drunken friend changing half the words to “the good times.” But mostly singing along to it lets me vent a small desire I have to just leave it all behind.
I love Colorado. I literally wear that on my sleeve. Most of my favorite people are here. But I often wonder if I should be somewhere else. If there’s something different or better for me in another place. What would become of me if I just left town tonight? Screws fall out. The wonderful thing about Anthem is it lets me ponder these things, while also reminding me that even though Less Than Jake talks about leaving, they always return to their home in Gainsville. Screws fall in.
It’s easy to seek answers from music, but it’s nice to just hear songs basically saying, “I know how you’re feeling. You’re not alone. It’s gonna be ok, eventually. You got this. In the mean-time, here’s some punk rock with horns.”
Less Than Jake is a band I can listen to no matter what’s going on. So it was a given they would have an album be part of my essentials collection. While they offered some great choices, Anthem really is the only choice. I would love for it to be the last album I hear as all the final screws fall out.