My Top 1000 Songs #535: Old LP
After a few records of 90s pop-flavored indie rock, peaking on 1997's excellent Retreat From The Sun, That Dog took a brief break of about 22 years. 2019's Old LP picked up right where they left off, sonically updated but otherwise delivering skewed, new wave-flavored post-punk hooks. But a few songs swapped out their standard guitar-bass-drums configuration for baroque orchestration, most notably on the album-closing title track, a fully orchestral piece more indebted to the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed than edgy power pop. It's sweeping and gorgeous, aided by some lovely harmonic vocal work (with assistance from the band's old friend, actress/comedian Maya Rudolph).
But it's the lyrics that shine brightest here. Though written, like the rest of the album, by singer/guitarist Anna Waronker, the spotlight is on singer/bassist Rachel Haden, drawn from the recent passing of her father Charlie Haden, a renowned jazz bassist who died in 2014. A heartstring-pulling ode to a loved one whose company can now be enjoyed solely through the records he left behind, it's impossible not to be moved to tears. "I guess I hate the fact that you're not coming back, I never wanted you to leave. I hate that there's no choice, I can't hear your voice, unless it's on an old LP."
Yes, it's devastatingly personal. But even without the story's specific backdrop, the song is a universal love letter to all lost musicians and the fans & admirers whose personal relationship is maintained through their music long after they're gone.
There's a sweet mini-documentary about the song, worth watching, or you could just skip to 6:08 for the song itself:Just the song: