Song of the Day #1,565: ‘Hospital For Sinners’ – The Wallflowers

Riding a wave of nostalgia for 90s acts, The Wallflowers returned this month with their first album since 2005’s Rebel, Sweetheart.

The Wallflowers made a big splash with 1996’s Bringing Down the Horse. Hit singles ‘One Headlight’ and ‘6th Avenue Heartache’ were radio staples that sound as fresh today as they did 16 years ago. But their brand of earnest roots rock felt out of place as grunge gave way to hip-hop, dance and electronica.

That’s too bad, because 2000’s Breach was an even better album than its predecessor. It remains one of my favorite albums. I never really warmed to 2002’s Red Letter Days, but the band redeemed itself in ’05 with Rebel, Sweetheart, another smart and satisfying collection.

The lead singer and principal songwriter Jakob Dylan went solo, releasing a pair of low-key acoustic albums in 2008 and 2010. Those records, Seeing Things and Women and Country, were worlds apart from his Wallflowers output and seemed to signal a new direction for his career.

So it was an unexpected and happy surprise to learn about the release of Glad All Over, a bona fide Wallflowers album. And listeners expecting to hear a slightly fuller version of Dylan’s solo work will be even more surprised.

This is a loose, loud, often fun record. It’s clear Dylan was excited to be back in front of a real rock-and-roll band, especially when Foreigner founder Mick Jones sits in on a couple of tracks.

I’ve listened to Glad All Over just a couple of times so I don’t feel ready yet to render my official verdict. I can say with confidence that it isn’t the equal of Breach, and likely not Rebel, Sweetheart or Bringing Down the Horse either. But it’s a fun and easy listen, even the first time through, and the very fact of this album is enough to put a smile on my face.

Some have crosses, bells that ring
Most have angels painted with wings
Old men and blind ones can find their way in
Got statues and apostles and other godly things

In deserts they build them of mortar and clay
In barrios they stick them by fire escapes
They outlast the setbacks of earthquakes and plagues
They burn like haystacks and another one is raised

In the backwoods of the country and the empire state
Wherever there’s somebody at the crossroads that waits
At the junction of right now and a little too late
You’ll see one before you with wide open gates
It’s a hospital for sinners, ain’t no museum of saints

There could be a casket and bums on the steps
A baby in a basket being left
It’s a good place to shuffle when you’ve gone through the deck
It’s the closest to heaven on earth you can get

It’ll shelter a poor man it’ll humble the great
It’s where derelicts and outlaws can hide for a day
The worst hearts you’ve known can be salvaged and saved
In the same room that lovers’ vows are exchanged
It’s a hospital for sinners ain’t no museum of saints

You’ll sin till you drop
Then ask to be saved
If it’s a comeback you want
Then get your hands raised

There’s more than a few on nearly every map
More than a couple alone on this path
You ought to be in one when you beg your way back
Cut off at the knees at its feet you’ll collapse
It’s a hospital for sinners ain’t no museum of saints


3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,565: ‘Hospital For Sinners’ – The Wallflowers

  1. Dana says:

    Always enjoy hearing what Dylan jr. Is up to, but I must admit tat I like his smoother sound of past records than today’s selection. Did jones produce this album? I have never been impressed with his production, nor have I ever been so into his musical style generally.

  2. Clay says:

    Jones didn’t produce this album (Jay Joyce did — not sure who he is). Have you heard Bringing Down the Horse and Breach?

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