Throwback Thursday: Strung Out – Matchbook

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California punk band Strung Out have been ripping and thrashing for well over twenty years now, writing the kind of strong but melodic rockers that appeal across the punk spectrum, from old time fans of classic hardcore, to the pop punk Warped Tour crowd. Though they just recently released their excellent new album Songs of Armor and Devotion, I have recently found myself gravitating back to their 1998 masterpiece “Matchbook”, from the album Twisted by Design.

“Matchbook” was the first song I ever discovered from the band back in the early days of Napster, and I instantly connected with it. The opening guitar melody’s immediacy and urgency hooked me like few other riffs. Jason Cruz’s powerful vocals and lyrics hit my teenage heart like a bullet, putting to words both my angst at the time, and my desire to find my way out of it.

Now, over twenty years later, and going through a new painful, life-changing event, I’m finding new nuances to the lyrics. The song’s description of a crumbling relationship hits almost too close to home…

I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice
The signs are obvious that all we had has run its course
I don’t mind giving up the upper hand in this little charade
‘Cause I’ve spent too many nights here on the floor
Waiting for something inside you to change

Or new painful moments the bring flashbacks to better times…

So here we stand and face each other we’ve got nothing to say
A flashback to another time when silence was a welcome friend

As Cruz sings “Don’t look back in anger” again and again like a mantra, I find myself gravitating towards it even more than twenty years ago, trying not to let the recent turmoil taint years of better times. And what’s left is finding hope to help move forward…

Well I got my friends, I got my pen
I got a million distractions to keep me warm
And I know that I’ll be alright
I’ll be alright

These lyrics, coupled with the closing musical barrage of dual guitars and slamming drums that slowly fade out, have been more cathartic than anything else I can think of in recent memory. I usually don’t let posts get this personal, but then, it’s the personal connection songs have for us that make musical as powerful and important to to us as it is. And that’s worth sharing. Thank you Strung Out.

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