Today we continue our series of posts that feature the exclusive premiere of video from GSW’s reunion shows in 2010, lovingly shot and put together by our pal Mike Wren. As with our last posts, God Street Wine guitarist Lo Faber tells the tale of the song in the video. In honor of our nation’s birthday, we’ve got a special edition of this series that focuses on a song named (but not about) after today’s holiday. Here’s Lo’s take on 4th of July as well as the video of GSW performing the tune at the Gramercy Theatre on July 10, 2010.
4th of July
“4th of July” is not about the Fourth of July. It has nothing whatsoever to do with fireworks, baseball, hot dogs, or parades, nor with liberty, equality, or the right to pursue happiness. At least I’m pretty sure it doesn’t–for confirmation you’ll have to ask Tom Osander, who wrote the lyrics. What I can tell you is that this one was written in the summer of either 1990 or 1991 when we were living, along with Aaron and our friend Roger Sands, in the top story of a big house on JFK Boulevard in Jersey City.
[Photo by Adam Kaufman]
(Downstairs there lived an Egyptian Coptic Christian family whose walls were entirely festooned with religious icons and who insisted you have an orange soda whenever you came in their door. The father had it in his head that Aaron would teach his son Peter to play guitar, and constantly asked about it; I, for some reason, escaped those demands.)
Anyway, the reason for the title was, we played on the 4th of July at the Speakeasy, which I believe was on McDougal Street in the Village. If I am not mistaken we were co-billing with The Hour, and if I am not mistaken it was quite a lame gig. But anyway, were putting this new song in the set list and it did not have a title, so like the creative geniuses we were, we simply titled it “4th of July” because that was the date.
Musically, this song was influenced by Jono Manson, whose band, the Mighty Sweetones, I was working for sometimes on days off from God Street Wine. Jono was a legend of the downtown Nightingale scene, a veteran of the famous Worms, who ruled the Nightingale in the ’80s, and a friend of Blues Traveler and all the other people we knew in that scene. So I would drive with the GSW van and pick up him and his guys if they had out of town gigs, and help them schlep and set up their stuff. I’m pretty sure Jono saw me as basically a roadie, but he was nice enough to let me sit in sometimes on those gigs, and I was very taken with his pure, clear, straightahead striiped down rock style of songwriting. It was a good antidote to the too-many-chords and too-complicated-rhythms style I’d developed from the Manhattan School of Music.
So 4th of July is basically an attempt at a simple, grooving, bar band track, something you’d hear when walking into a crowded dive on a Saturday night, somewhere down south, sometime in the summer. Possibly even July. It doesn’t draw attention to itself. It has no chorus. And the words go by too fast for most people to even really catch more than a word or two. It’s just a mood, a vibe, which is all some songs need to be.
Happy Independence Day, everyone. America is not perfect, but at least we have rock’n’roll, the Jersey shore, New Orleans and the happiness of not being British.
Upcoming God Street Wine Shows:
August 9 – TRI Studios (Free Webcast)
August 10 & 11 – Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley CA
August 16, 17 & 18 – Gramercy Theatre, NYC NY
Thanks to Lo for sharing the story behind the tune and Mike for his work on the video.