My Top 1000 Songs #103: Sequestered In Memphis

I've talked previously about how long we're supposed to wait before we welcome new music into the pantheon of greatness. Presumably there's some waiting period, when the initial rush from first hearing something new that strikes your fancy fades, and we can make a more objective call as to whether the music has true staying power. So, not surprisingly, most of my Top 100 dates back 20 or more years; I think there have only been two songs from the current millennium so far.

Still, sometimes you'll hear something that offers immediate, tangible proof that rock & roll is alive and vibrant, something that still revs you up hundreds of plays later. The Hold Steady have done that a lot, but never more so than on "Sequestered In Memphis," from 2008's Stay Positive. Musically, the band is at their bar-band-on-steroids peak, their Bruce Springsteeen/ mash-up a visceral thrill. But, as is the main feature of the band, it's frontman Craig Finn's sung-spoke storytelling that lures you in--in this case, a 3-minute tv-movie-of-the-week capturing the interrogation of some poor business traveler who hooked up with the wrong woman.

"In bar light she looked alright. In daylight she looked desperate. That's alright, I was desperate, too. I'm getting pretty sick of this interview." And it all bursts free in cathartic joy when the band drops out, leaving just Finn and the handclaps: "Subpoenaed in Texas, sequestered in Memphis. (I went there on business!)"

Needless to say, this one demands a few more spins to the right on the volume knob.

Live in the studio: