Song of the Day #349: ‘The Old Apartment’ – Barenaked Ladies

pirateshipBarenaked Ladies’ third album, Born on a Pirate Ship, is an eclectic mix of avant garde pop, arena rock and power ballads. I’m tempted to call it their best album, though a few left-field tracks toward the middle knock it down a peg. It’s an album without any real hits (or singles, for that matter) but it contains several fan favorites.

Among those is ‘When I Fall,’ a poignant existential tune told from the perspective of a window washer. It works splendidly whether you take it literally or as a metaphor, or a little bit of both. One track I love is titled ‘I Know’ and opens with this delicious one-liner: “I don’t buy everything I read… I haven’t even read everything I’ve bought.”

I’ve selected ‘The Old Apartment’ as my featured song from Born On a Pirate Ship because it’s a great song, sure, but also to make a point about the band’s versatility. My first BNL song this week was a yukfest. The second was a sensitive love ballad. And today I’ve highlighted a song where they really rock.

Now, Barenaked Ladies rocking is not to be confused with Metallica or Def Leppard. It’s more like Billy Joel or Elton John rocking… the spirit is there, but they can’t help but cling to all that wonderful melody. And that’s a good thing.

‘The Old Apartment’ is also a fine lyric. The singer, woefully misguided at best and a dangerous stalker at worst, has broken into the apartment of his ex to relive the memories and possibly win her back. He alternates between nostalgia and anger, destroying the place while wishing he still lived there.

This is one of a few tracks on Born on a Pirate Ship dealing with obsession, a theme worthy of its own week one of these days.

Broke into the old apartment
This is where we used to live
Broken glass, broke and hungry
broken hearts and broken bones
This is where we used to live

Why did you paint the walls?
Why did you clean the floor?
Why did you plaster over the hole I punched in the door?
This is where we used to live

Why did you keep the mousetrap?
Why did you keep the dishrack?
these things used to be mine
I guess they still are, I want them back

Broke into the old apartment
Forty-two stairs from the street
Crooked landing, crooked landlord
Narrow laneway filled with crooks.
This is where we used to live.

Why did they pave the lawn?
why did they change the locks?
Why did I have to break in, I only came here to talk
This is where we used to live

How is the neighbor downstairs?
How is her temper this year?
I turned up your TV and stomped on the floor just for fun

I know we don’t live here anymore
We bought an old house on the Danforth
She loves me and her body keeps me warm
I am happy there
But this is where we used to live

Broke into the old apartment
Tore the phone out of the wall
Only memories, fading memories
Blending into dull tableaux

I want them back

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #349: ‘The Old Apartment’ – Barenaked Ladies

  1. Dana says:

    I am not familiar with this song or album. Pretty cool on first listen, although I think I am more of a fan of their more playful lyrics.

  2. Amy says:

    I love the album cover and title 🙂

    This is a great song. I’m very much enjoying it on first listen. I must say that the first three days of Barknaked Ladies week have definitely piqued my interest. I want to hear more. I particularly like the lead singer’s voice – very plaintive and powerful.

    Oh, and I think we determined that the second song you featured may not have been a “sensitive love ballad” as much as it is a contemplation of the after life or a meditation on Quebec/Canada relations 😉

  3. مفروشة says:

    I like this song

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