Look, you guys, my heart’s really not in this. My beloved Oakland Athletics just lost the Wild Card game to the embodiment of the stodgy joylessness of baseball’s establishment. I’m in the throes of a deep malaise from which I’ll likely never recover. I’m more ennui than man and plan to spend the next 130 or so days, until pitchers and catchers report, wallowing in my despondence.
But RIFF Rewind must go on, so here are some songs from 2005, I guess. They’re as good as anything is anymore in this soul-crushing sham they call a world.
Beck — “E-Pro”
Like everything else, Beck isn’t as good as he used to be. Mellow Gold and Odelay are classics to which nothing since has completely stacked up. “E-Pro” evokes the classics, though, and would fit in well on his ’90s breakthrough albums. It has a grungy exuberance that he had strayed from as his music became less surrealist and more introspective.
And that’s really all we have left to remind us of past joy, isn’t it? The shadows on the wall of the dark cave in which we spend our lives, mimicking what was once good and pure.
Gorillaz — “Feel Good Inc.”
There was a time, back when I knew happiness, that I really loved this song. It was one of my favorites, a mesh of genres that felt at once like experimental rock and catchy pop. It combined underrated genius Damon Albarn with underrated hip-hop pioneers De La Soul (or at least Trugoy, with Maseo’s maniacal laugh at the beginning). It was so great.
Now, though? Now the title itself mocks me. Can anyone truly feel good? I doubt it. Good feelings are an illusion, a lie we tell ourselves to give us a brief respite from the void.
Audioslave — “Doesn’t Remind Me”
In time, all greatness fades. Jefferson Airplane becomes Jefferson Starship, the talented young 2018 Oakland A’s become the one-and-done Oakland A’s, and Rage Against the Machine becomes Audioslave.
Don’t get me wrong: Chris Cornell was amazing, and Tom Morello is the absolute best. Their commitment to only using vocals, guitar, bass and drums to make music is admirable in an era where actual human-produced sounds are barely a foundation for the eventual final product. But what made Rage special was … well, the rage. The unbridled, almost chaotic passion behind Rage’s message made the band legends; take that away, and it just becomes a very good band.
That said, Audioslave is still a very good band. So here we are.
Dropkick Murphys — “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”
If the A’s had beat the Yankees, their next two games would have been October 5 and 6 in Boston. That this song’s release corresponds with the column that runs on a day the A’s would have been shipping up to Boston is just the latest cruel joke that an uncaring universe has played on me.
Anyway, Celtic punk is awesome, punk songs inspired by Irish drinking songs are awesome, and the lyrics were written (if unintentionally) by Woodie Guthrie. As much as I’d like to leave this off out of spite, I can’t. You win this one, encroaching darkness of fate. You win this round.
OK Go — “Here It Goes Again”
OK Go is known more for its meticulously choreographed music videos than its actual music, which has to be depressing for the band. I mean, being known is great, and OK Go has certainly had a long and lucrative career, but if you play most of its songs without the corresponding video, most people will draw a blank.
There is “Here It Goes Again” though, which is a song everyone knows from various commercials in addition to the whole treadmill dance. You can’t truly know the pain of loss until your team has won 97 games in a season, and you probably can’t know irritation at being known for your marketing more than your art without a song that’s a hit on its own merits. Malice requires occasional benevolence.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.