in music, weekly jam

The Hold Steady, “Chillout Tent” – Tom’s Weekly Jam

It’s been a hectic week at work, leaving me with little time to seek out and listen to new music. In times such as these I rely either on my old favourites or my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, which is how I found the track “Chillout Tent” by the Hold Steady. How great is Discover Weekly, by the way? It can be hit and miss from week to week, and sometimes offers up 30 very similar tracks, but I’ve been enjoying a streak of fantastic playlists for the last month or so. Apple Music’s deep iOS integration hooked me for a long time but I dipped my toe back in the waters of Spotify a few months ago and haven’t looked back since, thanks in large part to this brilliant feature.

The Hold Steady is a band I’ve been meaning to listen to for a long time, their albums languishing in various streaming service libraries as I pass them over in favour of listening to Weezer or God-knows-what for the hundred thousandth time. When “Chillout Tent” popped up as a recommended song, I knew it was time to finally try them out, and I’m so glad I did. “Chillout Tent” is an unusual kind of feel-good track, with youthful tales of overdoses and doomed romances half spoken, half sung over a chugging rhythm guitar, and by the time a female voice began to sing the chorus over mariachi horns, I knew I was in love. This is one of those songs that makes me feel a bit happier when I’m sad and a bit sadder when I’m happy, a dichotomy that perfectly reflects the hormone-fuelled confusion that is inescapable when one is young.

It’s funny how a well-told story can make you nostalgic for an experience you’ve never had. While I love live music, I’ve never been a festival guy, valuing hot water and a warm bed far too much to spend three days camping out in a muddy field (I’m what you might call ‘soft’). Nonetheless, the events depicted in this song offer little attraction to me, I can’t help but feel a tiny pang of regret when I listen to it. Do I wish I’d ended more weekends as a shivering, strung-out wreck when I was a teenager? No, probably not. But there’s a sense of romance to the drug-fuelled escapades of the characters of “Chillout Tent”, and that’s something that is very difficult not to envy.