A couple of songs that are popping up on my iPod this days:
– The Weapon, Rush: This is one of those songs crying out for an update. It’s from the 1982 album Signals, which along with 1984’s Grace Under Pressure, has plenty of good songs but is forever trapped by its dated synthesizer sound. The Weapon is the best example. Alex Lifeson plays some snappy guitar riffs in counterpoint to the synths, and the lyrics — about fear as a means of controlling the masses — have aged better than a lot of Neil Peart’s efforts to be profound. (“The knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them” is a nice broadly applicable slogan.)
– Worn Me Down, Rachael Yamagata: In other hands, this would be a tedious whinefest. She gives an unsympathetic account of herself — one might even say pathetic — as the woman who finally realizes that she needs to back out of this relationship because the guy just isn’t going to get over his ex, to the point that there’s a metaphorical third person in the bed. The reason it works: She gains strength from seeing the situation so clearly, even though she realizes that the situation was, simply put, icky. “No, you’re wrong, you’re wrong / I’m not overreacting,” she sings. She’s resigned to the situation but is leaving with her dignity, and she’ll leave it with a song that rocks a little. Good for her. The song is a little overproduced, with far too many vocal overdubs near the end, but that’s nit-picking.