San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Top 30 + 1 of the 1990s - #28 - Hayden / Everything I Long For (1995)

Everything I Long For - Wikipedia

If you have never seen this artist on any other "best of" lists or even if you have never heard of Hayden, don't feel bad - you are probably in the majority. In fact, most people I know who have heard this album (both of them) would not believe that this made it onto anyone's "top picks" list. Why? Two reasons. First, Hayden is very hard to pin down. He is most easily described as a singer/songwriter from Toronto, Ontario (for those of you who didn't grow up in the Great White North, that's in Canada). Second, to say his music is an acquired taste is like saying he is obscure. Since you have probably never heard of him, I have to tell you that it this a huge understatement. Hayden's voice is scratchy, deep, and soulful, like an old bear drunk on cheap bourbon. It is not for everybody, and it's definitely not commercial.

Another thing Hayden has going against him is the loping single and video he made for MTV, the long sigh of a song, "bad as they seem," which I had the privilege of seeing on 120 minutes exactly once. After that, Hayden was never heard from again as far as I know, save the sophomore jinx "The Closer I Get," which even Music Trader, the godmother whore of CD resellers wouldn't piss on with a ten foot stolen dick if it were on fire.

So of course by now the reader wonders why the hell this album is on my top 30, let alone still in my CD collection intact. It's because it deserves to be there. Hayden's approach to music is one of the most unique takes on the one-guy-and-a-guitar thing in the entire decade. And in a ten-year spurt of MTV Unpluggeds and Indigo BoyGirl Wannabes, that's saying a Flounder-throwing-up-on-Dean-Wormer mouthful.

"Bad as they seem" is, in reality, a great song. This track starts the album and perfectly sets the theme that runs through the record - suburban boredom and monotony. While this may not sound very appealing, juxtaposed against some of the album's more intense spots, it makes for a disturbing and wonderful record.

The lyrics to "tragedy" tell the story of a pal who dies in a car accident. While not an unusual occurrence, the listener is chilled by the lack of affect in Hayden's voice as he sings "loss of my best friend I grieve / I can take this you will see." "Stem", the next song, can only be described as a silly little love song, while "skates," which immediately follows, is a haunting tale about a man whose wife has drowned. Hayden's voice transitions from his own persona of the quiet store clerk to the sorrowful voice of the widower like a car going from fifth to first gear in one step. The jump is jolting, but all the more effective because of the harsh shift.

"When this is over" is probably the most upsetting track, a retelling of the Susan Smith tragedy from the older son's point of view. Describing the car in one of the most heartbreaking verses: "filling up / dirty water / where is mom? / I miss her."

The album ends with the same theme as it began with in "lounging" - "why do I stay up 'til three? lounging, eating, watching TV. I promised you . . . that was through."

Perhaps the real beauty of Everything I Long For is that it starts out as a wish list, and ends up as just another crumpled piece of paper that missed the wastebasket by a few feet. The truth is that Hayden doesn't know what he longs for any more than any of us do, and somehow there is comfort to be found in this shared resignation.

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