#73 – “St. Louis” (2004)

Venue Songs

L.K.: I have to remember which one that is…

A.S.: Yeah, this was one of the last venue songs that I came to recognize by its city title.  It’s a good song, but it does just sort of blend in with a lot of the other songs toward the end of the disc.
L.K.: Ohhhhh, it’s Mississippi Nights! Okay, now I remember it.
A.S.: When you have 31 songs on an album and they’re all about the same thing, some of them aren’t going to jump out.
L.K.: I know venue songs much better by the venue than by the city they’re named for… with the exception of “Santa Cruz”.
A.S.: I still get some of them confused. “Santa Cruz” is a beast of its own though, as we’ve already discussed.
L.K.: Oh look, another song for a now-defunct venue. There are lots of them, this album is gonna get real sad real quick.
A.S.: Yep, Mississippi Nights is no longer, apparently razed to make room for a casino. Particularly sad here, because this seemed to be a rather beloved venue.  Dan Miller has fond memories of it, despite the bathrooms being “disgusting.”
L.K.: I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a venue with non-disgusting bathrooms though. You can never truly know the amount of puke that has been scraped off of every inch of a nightclub’s restrooms.
A.S.: That is true.
L.K.: (Or the amount of drugs that have been done in them.)
A.S.: B.B. King’s in Times Square has nice bathrooms, if I remember correctly.
L.K.: The lyrics to this song are so damn goofy.
A.S.: Yeah, the doo-wop feel to the music is a neat diversion, but its strength is the lyrics.
L.K.: Piles of broken glass…yes Flans, I am sure that is how everybody knows where to locate the venue. “Just look for the big pile of broken glass!”
A.S.: I wonder what the deal with the broken glass is. Also, “It’s across the street from the Embassy Suites” is such a great rhyme. For a band that likes to avoid rhyme schemes, they nailed it with that one.
L.K.: I love the enthusiastic “wooo” from the crowd at that line.
A.S.: And at the mention of all the other St. Louis venues too.
L.K.: The audience really enjoys this one, which is nice to hear.
A.S.: That’s a great thing about the live venue songs – you can always hear the intense local pride from the audience.
L.K.: I wish more of the in situ Venue Song recordings were from the live shows they debuted at, as opposed to soundchecks. The audience response is really what elevates some of these songs from just ok to really enjoyable. As you mention, the whole local pride thing… it’s heartwarming, in a way.
A.S.: Extremely heartwarming.
L.K.: It’s just little things like knowing that the band does pay attention to the cities they’re in frequently, which is more than can be said for some other artists.
A.S.: Although Mr. Flansburgh, I’m calling you out on this one.  Google mapping Mississippi Nights and the nearest Embassy Suites, and it’s a little more than just across the street. It’s a few blocks away!
L.K.: Well, you know how his memory is… he did the best he could!
A.S.: Then again, I’ve never been there, so I wouldn’t know exactly either
L.K.: The rhyme scheme was a curse!
A.S.: Seems like it’s in a great part of town, down the street from the arch! I really should go to St. Louis someday, if only because The Rams are the only professional sports team I’ve cared about for my entire life.
L.K.: I wonder if the Mississippi River is more impressive in St. Louis than it was when I saw it in Davenport, Iowa. It certainly didn’t seem as massive as suggested by the songs and stories about it. (Or Mark Twain’s damn book about it!)
A.S.: Well, if we can still believe John Flansburgh, nothing is like Mississippi Nights. Could have a double meaning there – about the venue and nights on the river. After just talking about how much we dislike overanalyzing lyrics
L.K.: Probably just about the venue though, unless he hit up a floating casino for poker after the show.
A.S.: As he is wont to do.
L.K.: The wide, weird world of US gambling law.
A.S.: He’s really giving his all singing this one too.
L.K.: He has the most wobbly, uncontrolled attempt at vibrato.
A.S.: Yeah, he does a technically terrible job at it, but it’s extremely spirited, which I prefer by a long shot.
L.K.: Like his guitar playing. It’s just how he does performance, it seems — mask lack of technical ability with enthusiasm.
A.S.: a.k.a. rock n roll.
L.K.: Yup.
A.S.: Say, let’s end this post with another great St. Louis song.
L.K.: What? There are many.
A.S.: I’m thinkin’ “The New East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”.
L.K.: Ahhh. Or “todalo”, as it was originally.
A.S.: Was it really?
L.K.: Yep. I still find it funny that Ellington would title any of his pieces the “new” anything since he recorded them all about eight million times each. There is a great Steely Dan cover of the song though, that’s virtually a note-for-note recreation of one of the versions of that song.
A.S.: Yep!  The wah-wah pedal doing its best to imitate the rabid plunger mute in the original.
L.K.: Just put up the video right here because I’m going to talk all day otherwise. I am in my native territory…
A.S.: I could go on about Steely Dan for a while too.  Yeah, see you tomorrow dear reader, we’ll quit while we’re ahead.
One Response to “#73 – “St. Louis” (2004)”
  1. Nathan says:

    I really can’t understand why they eventually decided to name the songs after the cities rather than the venues, especially since they never referred to them that way when they were first debuting the songs. Sure, some of the venues have the same name (well, the House of Blues, anyway), but there’s no reason they couldn’t have added the city to the title for those and not the others.

    B.B. King’s had a bathroom attendant the time I was there. Which I honestly found annoying, since you’re supposed to tip them for doing things you can easily do yourself. It WAS clean, though, so I’ll give you that.

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