I joined the bandwagon 19 years ago, when an online group of Elvis Costello fans steered me to his 2001 album Blue Boy. I fell hard for that record, and as often happens with introductory albums, it remains one of my favorites of his.
Truth be told, I probably ran out of meaningful things to say about him five songs ago.
He’s awesome; I love his work; if you don’t have any of his albums you should remedy that as soon as possible. That about sums it up.
Other Songs – Ron Sexsmith (1997)
Ron Sexsmith’s second studio album (and third album overall) was my first introduction to his work. I bought Other Songs after reading effusive praise by Elvis Costello and about 15 seconds into the first track I knew I’d found a new favorite.
Sexsmith would go on to record increasingly better produced records but the low-key, mostly acoustic Other Songs remains one of his very finest moments.
It features several beautiful little slices of life, such as ‘Pretty Little Cemetery,’ in which a father and son share a moment while walking through a cemetery on vacation, and ‘Strawberry Blonde,’ in which the singer spots a childhood crush on a bus years later.
I imagine today’s song came to Sexsmith all at once after spotting a clown in broad daylight at a car wash — an odd, incongruous image that made him smile. And he turned that into a couple of minutes of jaunty delight, adding in a horn part that’s appropriate to the circus theme.
I’m not sure exactly when I was first introduced to Ron Sexsmith. I know it was thanks to Elvis Costello, who for years has trumpeted Sexsmith so effusively that he should be getting a cut of the man’s album sales. But I don’t recall the year or the album.
However, I remember buying Other Songs, Sexsmith’s second studio album, released in 1997, and figuring it would help me determine whether or not this guy was the real deal. And when the opening track, ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ poured out of my car stereo speakers, I became a fan for life.
He has a song called ‘Clown in Broad Daylight’ that’s about, well, seeing a clown in broad daylight. Here’s the opening verse: “Standing on the side of the road near the overpass with a sign around his neck that says ‘Carwash, free balloons,’ he’s a clown in broad daylight.”
It’s a great image and at the end he brings it around to a message about the importance of those little distractions: “Everything is alright, for against the backdrop of ordinary life it’s the easy laugh that gets you through your working day and the hogwash.”
And he makes it all sound good in a song.