Song of the Day #2,251: ‘Footdown’ – Michael Penn

mp4‘Footdown’ is the fifth track on Michael Penn’s fourth album, 2000’s MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident. And it marks the very moment when he went from one of my favorite artists to an afterthought.

That’s a lot to hang on one song, I know.

Penn’s first three albums were brilliant. 1989’s March was a glistening pop debut, featuring his only true hit (‘No Myth’) and nine other songs even better than that one. In ’92, he avoided the sophomore slump with Free-For-All, an even deeper and more rewarding record. And ’97’s Resigned continued the winning streak.

So I naturally expected more of the same when MP4 came out three years later. And the album’s first four tracks didn’t disappoint.

But this one bored me. Something about the plodding verses and chorus turned me off, and it was the first time a Michael Penn song had fallen so flat.

The rest of the album was fine. Looking at the tracklist now, I see several songs I count among Penn’s very best. But it sticks in my brain as a disappointment.

And it’s the last real album Penn ever released. Five years later he put out a glorified EP, Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947, that (despite one or two exceptions) fell flat. And he’s done nothing but film scores in the nine years since.

Not a bad gig, to be sure. He’s currently the lead composer on the critically-acclaimed series Masters of Sex. But that’s not the future I envisioned for Mr. Romeo in Black Jeans.

And it all started with ‘Footdown.’ Which, I gotta say, listening to it today, is a pretty good song.

In a little while
I’ll forget your name
and with the time we had
I will do the same
’cause I can’t belong
to any future
the past’s a
never ending overture
until it’s only now
no matter how
I put my foot down
I want to know my rank
and I want my reward
or I will make a little war
that you can not afford
I don’t mean to be
somehow unkind
but the bottom of my heart
is in the backseat
of my mind
it’s a drive with will
I guess until
I put my foot down
I don’t mean to be
somehow unkind
but when you put
your best foot forward
something’s left behind
I’m gonna tell you now
I’m going to make a vow
to put my foot down

One thought on “Song of the Day #2,251: ‘Footdown’ – Michael Penn

  1. Dana says:

    I’m fine with the verses. It’s the chorus that falls flat and feels awkward.

    I haven’t followed Penn’s career since his rxcellent debut album, but I suppose if I ever get around to watching Masters of Sex, I will enjoy the music.

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