Saturday, December 08, 2007

And I'll Say "Goodbye, I Love You," 'Cause It's Time That I Should Go

I'm about 90% sure that the first time I'd every sat down and listened to the music of what would become my favorite band in the whole world, I was a freshman in college and was taking part in one hell of a dork-tastic Trivial Pursuit showdown with my friend and floor-mate Carlie. Some song about drinking Guiness from a tin called "Rosy and Grey." She had already fallen head over heels for this band called The Lowest of the Low years before, back when they were the momentary toast of the Toronto indie scene with Shakespeare My Butt, the thinking man's college rock album. So Carlie was a freak for them and I became a freak for them too.

Cut to yesterday, nine years later, as I took the long train ride home to Buffalo to see the Low play their last concert ever. Being my favorite band in the whole world, their music has been such a prominent fixture in my life, each song marking some signpost along the way. I always say that I'm a shitty music fan, and part of that is a cover for why I have a lot of Fall Out Boy on my iPod. But the other part of that is that I don't approach music the way I approach TV and movies, where I have specific tastes based on specific qualities. It's not that I don't know good music, but it's much more about sense memory for me. And every Low song reminds me of something specific: some place, some person, some reason to smile or cry. Even now, they've become my preferred choice for walking around New York music. Add every time the F train pulls into Delancey Street station, I start humming "These Are The Lives And Times." Every time Tara mentions Sneaky Dee's in Toronto I think about "Beer, Graffiti Walls." And a pint of Guiness still has me singing "Rosy and Grey," even nine years later.

It makes me sad that the Low are virtually unknown outside Western New York and Southern Ontario, but of course there's also that proprietary feeling that comes with having that band that belongs to you and your closest friends. It makes me sad that this, tonight, is the last show. The last time I'll be able to attach a new concert memory to a song. The last time I'll be among a crowd screaming "Alex never gets what she wants" at the top of their lungs.

Chances are beyond slim that this little blog entry crosses your paths, but thanks for a killer soundtrack to the last nine years, guys. No way they would have been as fun without you.


Deirdre said...

Joe, just out of curiosity, what did the announcement say about it being their last concert ever? I only ask to give you some hope, because they've announced their retirement before and it hasn't stuck. I only discovered them after they'd "broken up" and yet saw them a couple of weeks ago as part of a Grey Cup line-up (also featuring Spirit of the West and Great Big Sea, two more Canuck high-school/university staples).

Anyway, if they really are gone for good this time, that's sad. I'm gonna go throw on "Bleed A Little While Tonight" in their honour.

bekleonard said...

I fell in love with TLOTL when I was going to UB from 90-94 and Canisius from 94-97 for grad school. I friend and I once took all of the empties from our house (which may have included a keg) and payed for a trip to Rochester to see TLOTL. We got gas, cigarettes, drinks and admission to see them out of it. I love all of the songs on Shakespeare My Butt and was very sad when I lost the tape I had ( I have Hallucigenia on CD and still listen to it). You have inspired me to try to find it on CD. Thanks for the memory!

Joe R. said...

Deirdre: Yeah, I do know they've packed it in before, but they really sound like this is the end this time. Of course, Ron and Stephen will still be around doing their thing, so I'm sure their paths will all cross again. But the finality of last night's show certainly was sincere. It was a great note for them to go out on. (And that Grey Cup show sounds awesome.)

bekleonard: Check out Maple Music and/or Victimless Capitalism for Low/Ron Hawkins CDs. Shakespeare doesn't appear to be available, but I would definitely recommend the Low's last studio effort, Sordid Fiction, and ALL of the Ron Hawkins stuff (solo and with the Rusty Nails). Such phenomenal stuff.