Chase This Light
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A Menacing Tone

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Arizona-based alt-rock band Jimmy Eat World is best known for leading the second-wave of emo-rock, and for the 2001 smash hit 'The Middle' (that teen anthem with the music video that features a couple of non-conformist kids who decide not to give in to peer pressure and keep their clothes on in a house full of underwear-clad, hedonistic partygoers). 


But it's perhaps best to listen to 'Gotta Be Somebody's Blues' from their 6th album, Chase This Light (2007) without too much familiarity with Jimmy Eat World's extensive discography (8 albums, from 1994-2013), since the track is a departure from their usual sound. Writing for Slant, Jonathan Keefe observes that "The twitchy, vaguely psychedelic “Gotta Be Somebody's Blues” is unlike anything they've ever written in that it actually maintains a menacing tone", while Andrew Blackie of notes that "Ironically, “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” is the experimental number of the lot, cranking up the Beatles’ old collage of strings from “Eleanor Rigby” to an even further extreme, pulling off an oddly bitter, unnerving experience, though one that doesn’t particularly invite repeated spins".


I can see why most music listeners might prefer not to listen to track repeatedly, given its unnerving vibe and consistent atmosphere of menace. Vocalist Jim Adkins delivers the track's sinister imagery and fatalistic undertones with practiced ease, building up the track's momentum towards its ultimate question: 'Where you gonna go if they come for you?/ Will there be someone left to sing your blues?': 


'Let the water come, she's the only one I loveLet the fat man drop, she's the sweetest honey potWill they see the sky again?Who will sing their blues for them?


Let the factories rust, she's the only thing I trustLet the virus spread, she's the silk vine in my bedWill they breathe our air again?Who will sing their blues for them?

When you're feeling mootYou can have your conscience all you wantYou can't say I do nothing, yeahI put it off

Where you gonna go if they come for you?Will there be someone left to sing your blues?Where you gonna look when they come for you?Will there be someone left to sing your blues?'


Against a backdrop of decay, with rusting factories and an infectious virus on the rise, the lyrical persona seems to be defining a dissonant relationship with a significant other ('she'), returning again and again to the dread of facing an unnamed, faceless adversity all alone. Who is the 'they' that will come for you? It isn't defined - it could be a tyrannical government, mental illness, physical illness, or something more intangible - a significant hardship that you may not be able to survive if left to your own resources. This is probably the antithesis to 'feel good' music (at least insofar as the tone and lyrical content is concerned), but its definitely a successful evocation of a fatalistic mind. 

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