Song of the Day #2,680: ‘Cold Parade’ – Stew

naked_dutch_painterHere’s the third straight 2002 album that I discovered only after its release. It’s probably telling that the albums I discovered when they came out that year are sitting higher on my list (we’ll get to most of those next week).

I learned about Stew just a year later after the release of 2003’s Something Deeper Than These Changes. My wife heard a segment on the album on NPR and suggested I check it out. I was instantly smitten and sought out the rest of his discography.

This album was Stew’s second solo effort (he had released three albums with his band The Negro Problem, though the “band” has the same lineup that plays on the solo records). It was recorded live in L.A. clubs and barely touched in the studio. I’ve heard that approach on a few albums and it usually makes for a nice, intimate recording.

The songs are theatrical and ambitious but never too arty for their own good. Stew’s wry sense of humor shines through, as does his fondness for recreational drugs (explored on the lush, three-song ‘Drug Suite’).

Stew headed to Broadway a couple of years after this album’s release, which isn’t a surprise given his writing style. He had a stage hit with Passing Strange, which was filmed as a movie by Spike Lee. Good for him, but I wish he’d record another proper album.

Look at the sky today
It’s like a desperate gigantic grey combover
Looming and weeping
Looming and weeping

Check out the sudden twilight
Maybe tonight will be your night
I don’t know
See that’s what I’m saying

Hey the sun hasn’t worked for days now
It’s like a glowing red circle
Looming and weeping
Looming and weeping
This kind of weather’s only good for sleeping
Well yeah okay I better let you go
See we’ll start talking
And the next thing you know
You know I was on my way home then I got lost on purpose

I’m a man of alleyways and misty parks at night
Call me Simms
You might’ve seen me strolling Central Park
Or lurking south of the Thames
I’m terribly familiar in a quite forgetful way
A face you swear you’ve seen before
But where you cannot say
Don’t bother it’s alright
Come and join me in tonight’s cold parade

Though I’m a harmless fellow
I’ve been known to scare the hell out of a dame
On an empty sidestreet
Where the wind and she and I meet for a game
She sees me and assumes I’m up to no good and it’s true
But the only no good I’m up to is not knowing what to do
With this thing called my life
So I’m sentenced to the night’s cold parade

Well ‘what sort of parade?’ you ask
Well don’t expect a float or a band
A broken majorette may bum a cigarette and offer
You her hand
Yeah it’s not exactly pretty
This collection of the lost
You’ve heard about the nitty gritty
Well here’s how much it cost
It’s gonna be bumpy alrght
Come and join me in tonight’s cold parade

Now I’ve got an odd relationship to life
And on that life and I agree
I’m a charming party guest
But I also get bored so easily
Now if I had me a dirty little vocation
I’d feel more at home
See I only walk these streets because
My thoughts and I cannot be left alone
See the crossword puzzles and playoff games
and porno sites galore
Cannot contain or ease the pain
They don’t work anymore

See by day I am a pillar
But by night I tend to sway
What happens after work
Well it’s too gruesome Lord to display
See by day I am a pillar
But by night I tend to roar
But nothing compares to the music of your knock upon my door
It’s lonely here inside
Come and join me in tonight’s cold parade
It’s lonely here inside
Come and join me in tonight’s cold parade

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,680: ‘Cold Parade’ – Stew

  1. Dana says:

    I’ve liked some of what you have featured and what I’ve heard from Stew, but, unlike you, I do feel that he tilts a bit too much into the artsy.

  2. Andrea Katz says:

    Not too artsy for his own good…I like that phrase!

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