The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
It's well known that the Hold Steady are among my favorite bands. They are easily the best live band I have ever seen and last year at SXSW I saw them as many times as I could (three times), bringing the total to 5. At a Hold Steady show, protocol dictates that the diehard lunatic fans must find their way to front and center. Bystanders who are just there to watch the band are cast aside and told to fuck off if they are bothered by this. It's a communal thing, the twenty-five or thirty people wholly love the Hold Steady. Though “love 'em or hate 'em” is thrown around in reference to other bands, nowhere is this more applicable than with the Hold Steady. And those who hate this band can, quite frankly, get fucked. I will still be your friend (i.e. Kasey Klimes), but I will think something is wrong with you and that you just do not know how to have a good time and are a total square. I'm sorry, but the Hold Steady (and seeing them live) is the closest I will ever get to religion. I am a diehard and can quote lines from their songs like scripture (which they make reference to on a later album). Separation Sunday is my favorite. Not only does it have my favorite songs, but it's their most cohesive record. A concept album chronicling the life of Hallelujah (the kids call her Holly), a normal girl who hooks up with some druggy kids on the banks of the Mississippi River where she is baptized into their world by taking a hit off a nitrous tank and getting dunked into the river by Charlemagne. She lives the life until she burns out, comes to in a confession booth and stumbles into Easter Mass to ask the priest if she can tell the congregation how a resurrection really feels. It's simple, and really, all Hold Steady albums are pretty much about the same thing. It's a bunch of dudes singing rock anthems about being young and alive. Getting drunk and fucked up and partying until you simply cannot party anymore. If I made a list of Top 5 records, this one would be on there. It was also a test I laid out for Jenny, putting it on one night. If she didn't like it, I was convinced we would probably have to break up because really, being friends with anti-Hold Steady folk is one thing but living with one might be impossible. Through all our differences, she loves the Hold Steady with the same fiery passion I do and things are swell. Just sayin'.