Song of the Day #467: ‘Party Generation’ – Dar Williams

endofsummerMortal City was Williams’ second full-length album. For some reason I don’t own her debut, The Honesty Room, even though it contains one of my favorite songs ever, ‘When I Was a Boy.’

I featured that song on the blog just over a year ago and it is far and away the post here that has received the most continued attention. That’s because I posted the song on YouTube with a link back to Meet Me In Montauk, and the YouTube clip has received more than 15,500 views to date. Now that’s not much compared to that wedding dance clip or the keyboard cat, but it’s a pretty big number to me.

I wish I’d done that song more justice in my blog post. I just kind of tossed it out there with a few throwaway lines about Dar Williams. That song deserves serious examination, as evidenced by the comments on my blog post and the YouTube clip. One of my favorites is this one from YouTube: “To date, still the only song that’s ever made me cry.”

But anyway, I’m getting off topic. Williams’ third album, End of the Summer, came out in 1997 and I picked it up right away. It’s as strong a collection as Mortal City, with even better production values and the same mix of the whimsical and the profound.

The second song, ‘Party Generation,’ is one of my favorites. It’s an anthem about good spirits (both meanings of the phrase) and holding onto your inner child. I love how Williams packs so many words into her verses… she’s really a short story writer who puts her work to music. She even manages to describe a drinking game in full detail here while sticking to the melody. Now that’s a gift.

When he turned 34 but who’s counting
He couldn’t find anyone who wanted to party
So he walked around a playground with a bag of Mickey’s Tallboys
And he heard the sound of laughter and he followed it for fifteen blocks
There was a house between Mavis and Water
They were out on the porch, they were inside playing quarters
And he said, “Don’t you know the game Kazaam? It’s a better game,
You point your elbow at someone and say somebody else’s name
And it alternates whose turn it is and if you lose you drink.”
They said “Man, you really make us think,
yeah you make us think and so:

Tonight we’re gonna be the party
We will party all night long
We are the party generation
So have a seat, what’s in the bag?
Party on.

Round about one or two it started winding down
And he knew what they needed- they needed donuts
So they walked out to Krispy Kruller’s All Nite Sugar Palace
It was there in the doorway he said “Oh, well maybe not.”
Inside there were six women talking
They were the most justified angry ex-girlfriends
And they swivelled around slowly like they saw something bad
Through the eyes in the back of their heads
Like he always knew they had
And they said “what a coincidence” and “Hey you’re just the man,
We were saying that you did the best you could
You’re fine we understand and so-

Tonight we’re gonna be the party
We will party all night long
We are the party generation
You were the best but we’ll survive
Party On”

In the morning they sent him home with a designated driver
And he lay down and thought about the whole night
And he looked up at the photo that he bought at a junk shop
It was only fifty cents but he framed it and everything
It was the kind of party that you hope never ends
The lucky party boy surrounded by his friends
And they were all in pointed hats
Caught in a rebel birthday shout
And he was at the candles with his mom there to help him out
There was a lot that you could learn if you lay near them
Like if you listened you could hear them and he could hear them

They say:

Tonight we’re gonna be the party
We will party all night long
We are the party generation
So lift your head lift your head
Party on

Tonight we’re gonna be the party
We will party all night long
We are the party generation
So lift your head and blow em out

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #467: ‘Party Generation’ – Dar Williams

  1. Dana says:

    I find 15,000 hits on YouTube to be very impressive indeed!

    This is another good song by Dar. it’s the first song to make me cry:)

  2. pegclifton says:

    wow, I find it impressive as well! She has a nice sound and I’m trying to think of who she reminds me of???

  3. Amy says:

    She crams more lyrics in her verses than Paul Simon does. This is a great song; I love how she captures the details of her characters’ lives.

    Meanwhile, what is up with that cat?! So odd.

    Perhaps you ought to put up YouTube videos for each of your songs 😉 I love that over 15,000 people associate your blog with “When I Was a Boy.”

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