Song of the Day #1,959: ‘New Constellation’ – Toad the Wet Sprocket

toad-new-constellationListening to a new Toad the Wet Sprocket album is like having a friend over for dinner whom you haven’t seen in 20 years.

It’s hard for me to be objective when assessing these guys because the albums they put out in the early to mid 90s made up the soundtrack of my 20s — notably, the first years I spent with my future wife.

We would listen to Fear and Dulcinea on repeat, often on a portable Sony Discman that connected to my car stereo through a wire attached to a cassette tape. How odd it was to go from that to downloading their latest release and playing it in my car via a USB drive. Our 20-year-old selves would have viewed that as some sort of black magic.

The band broke up in 1998 and have pursued solo careers in the meantime, with only lead singer Glen Phillips achieving any real success (and his was modest, at best). A few years ago they decided to reform and work on new material.

They planned to market the new album using funds generated by Kickstarter, establishing a $50,000 target and allowing several months to collect it, but were shocked when fans contributed the full amount in less than a day. As Don Draper once said, nostalgia is “potent… a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.”

So is the album any good? Yes, in fact, to my biased ears. Phillips has always been a great vocalist and he sounds as good here as he ever did. I don’t immediately hear any songs on par with their best work but everything on this record is solid.

Besides, when you have an old friend over for dinner, you don’t tell him he looks worse than the last time you saw him. You’re just glad he’s back at your table.

Hey, what’s that thing I can’t remember?
How did I get so far off center?
It’s a fractured view through faulty lenses
What do you trust when you can’t trust your senses

But I can fly through the heavens on the power of my heart
And thread my way through a string of stars
To write your name in a new constellation
Declare my love to all creation

I need to see the milky way
No city lights, no smoky haze
Just a speck on a speck on a spiral arm
It feels so good to be so small

And I can fly through the heavens on the power of my heart
And thread my way through a string of stars
To write your name in a new constellation
Declare my love to all creation

In darkness it gathers
In sunlight it scatters
My sorrow’s contagious
I’ve tested your patience
Saint Dymphna, Cecilia
Saint Margaret, Christina
We’ve no faith but hear us
Saint Drogo, Saint Vitus

What’s that thing I can’t remember….

But I can fly through the heavens on the power of my heart
And thread my way through a string of stars
To write your name in a new constellation
Declare my love to all creation

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,959: ‘New Constellation’ – Toad the Wet Sprocket

  1. Dana says:

    This band was never the soundtrack of my youth, mostly because, for years, I made the assumption, based on their name, that the music would be far more alternative or even punk than it actually is. Over the past 20 years, however, I have heard some of their work, sometimes through pandora, sometimes through my inherited iTunes collection from you and sometimes through your blog. I usually like what I hear and today’s song is no exception.

    As to your old friend analogy, Amy and I have often said that we are too old to make new friends. We enjoy spending time with the friends and family we have and we don’t have the desire to expand that circle. The same largely holds true with new music, though there have been some notable exceptions. So, if Toad tried to come over for dinner, we would probably try to get out of the plan or we would politely go through with the evening, but not follow up after that even if we found the company perfectly pleasant and enjoyable. The same pretty much holds true with Toad’s music. I find their sound enjoyable, but I don’t see myself spending more time with them at this point in my life.

  2. Amy says:

    I love today’s blog post. What a wonderful analogy. And, while I agree with Dana’s anti-social position, I might be more likely to welcome the old friend of a lifelong friend to my table, so Toad can have a seat at my table any time if he’s coming with you and Alex 🙂 I like this song very much though I’m hearing with ears biased by love from the story you shared today – the quaint way you listened to their original music and their delighted surprise at collecting all the desired money in a single day! How wonderful is that.

  3. Clay says:

    I feel the same way when it comes to new people but the opposite when it comes to new music.

    I’m more like a serial monogamist where new music is concerned. I go all in when I discover something I like, but my eye starts to stray after a little while when something fancy comes on the scene.

  4. pegclifton says:

    I, too, loved the blog post and comments today; thanks for the Don Draper quote 🙂 Was that the episode where he is doing the slide show? Just wondering.

  5. Clay says:

    Good catch, Peg… that’s exactly the right episode.

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