My brother Brad is currently spending a year-long retreat in Colorado as part of seminary. As a result, I have been sending him a bunch of snail-mail letters. This week, I’m honoring seven songs that remind me of him. My reflections will be in epistolary form, and I’ll actually print them out and mail them.
I don’t remember the exact narrative or timeline for us getting into ska. But I know for sure that you were a big driver of our ongoing interest in the genre.
I’ve always valued your opinions on ska. One that you ingrained in me was in appreciation of Suburban Legends. Although they aren’t a massive crossover smash, some of their early stuff is really essential. It fused some disco and radio pop elements into the ska-punk sound.
Especially “I Want More,” their greatest song in my book. It’s one of the defining tracks from those few years of our lives, the late aughts. The horns provide a juicy counterpoint to the vocals, and the overall composition is perky and gorgeous. I love how it’s almost theatrical.
At one point, you were going to rank the Fifty Best Ska Songs for this site. You sent me the list. Though the ranking is long outdated, I think you had “I Want More” at number one. A prestigious honor.
That was enough for me. Since then I’ve always viewed this as the greatest ska song ever, even if it’s not the most heralded… or most nuanced… or most profound. To me it is the distillation of third-wave ska, an entire genre encapsulated in one, perfect, three minute song.
Yours in skankin,