Favorite Song Tourney Matchup #16 Shop Vac vs. That Spells DNA



  • JonathanL wrote:
    Wait, if you desire/enjoy suburban life than you are, by default, shallow and/or lack the ability to think about your station in life? Really? That's what this debate is turning into, an offensive against the suburban lifestyle?
    I don't think that's what anyone's arguing. In fact, it sounds as though the question being discussed is, "Suburban life sounds great and wonderful! Why would the song treat it so negatively?" Hence the responses have been things that are bad about suburbia.

    If the question had been, "Why would anyone in their right mind want to live in the suburbs?!" then the debate would've been much more the other way.

    And recognize, too, that JoCo, as he himself admits, is drawing from a much-tapped vein of criticisms of suburbia that dates back pretty much back to the beginning of the suburbs. He's making reference to lots of familiar images of shallow, cookie-cutter, materialistic suburban life. That isn't to say that all suburban life is shallow, cookie-cutter, and materialistic, it should be needless to say. But everything from "Little Boxes" to "Stepford Wives" has turned a cynical eye on the shallowness of suburban life.

    No one's saying that all suburban life is inevitably shallow -- simply that putting too much emphasis on the trappings of anything, suburban life or otherwise, is necessarily going to be shallow. Plenty of people can and do live happy, fulfilled lives in the suburbs, with or without the driveway and swingset and dog, but people who think that just getting the driveway et al. will make them happy aren't going to find themselves satisfied.

    So, in short, we're talking about the negatives in suburban life because JoCo described suburban life negatively, and JoCo described suburban life negatively because he draws on a theme of criticism of the suburbs.
  • I think it's just the idea that ("nice lifestyle" != "happiness").
  • Another suburbia-related pop culture reference I thought of today: "Mother's Little Helper."
  • edited February 2009
    That's the kind of suburban angst song I actually like, Colleenky. There's such a menacing tone to it that I think really hits the core of the issue, of trying so hard to believe in something that you're willing to do what it takes to believe in it. Mother, in this song, thinks that what she does to get through is part of enjoying it; that's how throughly brainwashed she is.

    I'm listening to "DNA" right now and I realize what I like so much about it: it's just a "that's life" kind of song. It's not depressing; it simply IS, like the Foo Fighters' "DOA." That's just life, no more and no less. And while I like Shop Vac, the subject matter just isn't as enjoyable to me.
  • i like "hackensack" and "a fine day for a parade" from fountains of wayne's oeuvre.

    i wish i could understand any of what spaceparanoids said about shop vac. what would i have to do to gain any understanding of that? take a ba in music theory? or can i get it from books?

    i REALLY think shop vac should be on the mandelbrot set's queue so we can get a version such as what colleen has suggested. that would be fantastic.

    i guess i read shop vac as post-kids because there is no direct mention of the kids anywhere in the song, and even hardly any indirect mentions. there's no mention of taking the kids anywhere, or tending to their many needs, or anything. also, i've seen firsthand how a relationship can become all about raising the kids and then fall apart when they leave, and this just seems to me to paint a clear portrait of the period after the departure of the kids and before the dissolution or restoration of the relationship. the lyric quoted above suggests the kids are in the present tense, but the rest of the song just seems to strongly contradict that to me.
  • Well, since kids can function as marital glue, they would detract a little from the theme of the song; that's enough reason to mention them only obliquely.

    Perhaps the narrator is a stereotypical father who has no significant role in child-rearing? Maybe the kids are upstairs with their respective TVs, most likely augmented with video game consoles?
  • i just see the marital relationship as completely empty, and when there are kids they tend to fill that emptiness with their various needs, which is how the relationship becomes stable. the relationship described in shop vac seems like it's already begun its gradually-accelerating destabilization.

    but, perhaps the kids are going to leave soon, and this has just hit the couple and caused them to take stock of what else they have, so the destabilization has kicked off slightly before the kids' departure.
  • Maybe they're at summer camp?
  • Perhaps the narrator is a stereotypical father who has no significant role in child-rearing? Maybe the kids are upstairs with their respective TVs, most likely augmented with video game consoles?
    Which explains why they're not also crying, and suggests an easy way to fix the relationship.
  • Calling this one.
    Shop Vac wins 28 to 15 over That Spells DNA
  • but...but....but nobody bought my vote!
    It could have made ALL the difference !!!!!

  • I was all proud of myself for having located some discussion of Shop Vac handclaps on the first try simply by searching for 'Fountains' and then I went and found the actual debate I was looking for by searching for 'handclaps'. My search fu is like the arithmetic-fu of a maths major.

    I've been having a terrible existential crisis (okay, not existential. But I think about it, therefore it exists) about starting those claps during Shop Vac. You see, Over Here, it sometimes happens that nobody starts them. And I'm sitting there thinking that we should be clapping, and wishing someone would start them, because, damnit, despite what @Bry says about most people, I know when to stop. I don't even do that one extra cycle of claps that a lot of people do. But I'm just not confident enough to start. I know when they're supposed to have started just after I didn't start them.

    So this last UK tour, and more specifically, near the end of Shop Vac in the second show, I finally took matters into my own hands. I started late and I'm right next to my camera and it sounds terrible on the recording. Should I have done that? Is it better to have no claps at all, or claps started too late by someone who has been to enough concerts to know when to start them but still waits for someone else to and then misses the beat? Am I ruining everything? Is everyone else making everything slightly less awesome by not clapping, and thus implying that there are no superfans in the audience? In Amsterdam he said it was comforting, perhaps because it was a new town, perhaps because nobody clapped in Bristol on that tour. Is this my coming of age?

    Later in this latest tour, I actually started clapping in the first verse. I hoped it would encourage other people to start at the right time in later verses. I don't remember if it did, because I haven't watched those videos yet.

    tl; dr: Hey, remember that time we all debated whether Shop Vac had handclaps, and we mainly ended up finding out that it did? You probably don't, because you just joined the forums to squee about the cruise(s). Well I do, but I couldn't remember the conclusion so I've had that debate with myself in my head during concerts.
  • Started following the trail of links and -- man, I used to write a lot here, didn't I? (Shop Vac is still one of my favorites.)

    I think it was cool that you started the handclaps; agree it sounds a little funny because they're so close to the camera mic, but the claps make it awesomer. Or, at worst, they're the nicest way of ruining everything.

    What we really need is an "Applause" sign, particularly one that we can turn off at the appropriate moment.

    Lyric-nerdiness, but it sure sounds to me as though (at least in the Bristol 2011/Brummie 2012 videos that @Angelastic links above) he's been singing "got a driveway and a swingset and a dog," rather than "bought," which is the wording in the original recording. I can't be sure, but it sounds like different vowels to me (no got-bought merger). Anyone hear differently?

  • @Angelastic it took me a few minutes in Manchester to realise the clapping was in the timing it was meant to be and by that point it was over or I would have joined in. Shop Vac was my gateway song so it is kind of special to me, maybe just the fact I was in a room listening to him play it fused my nerdery and I was unable to take part in the clapping. Who noes.
  • edited October 2012
    Hey, if I started it, maybe it wasn't in the timing it was meant to be. :D I can understand the squee-paralysis that can result from seeing something for the first time. 

    You know, @Bry, I had to go listen to the original recording again, because I'd forgotten it was ever 'bought'. Then I figured I may as well listen to the other 12 recordings of it I had in my collection (yeah, I was surprised to have so few too. [ETA: really, I was. When I reread that, it almost sounds sarcastic, and it occurs to me people might be surprised I have so many. But he plays that song a lot, so I expected to have more; I have more than twice that in Still Alives]) Seems he's been singing 'got' for quite a while now. I don't have anything from 2007, but someone who does might be able to pin down the change.

    Original recording, October 2005: we bought [clapping]
    Temple Bar, Santa Monica, 10/9/06: bought (he dropped the 'we' already; I didn't note down whether he used it in the later recordings, but a random sampling says he didn't) [no clapping]
    Best. Concert. Ever. (February 2008): got [clapping, of course. It was an audience full of superfans]
    Live at the Lakeshore Theater [5/3/08]: got [no clapping]
    House of Blues Live 2008-05-18: got [no clapping]
    Glasgow, 2008: got [no clapping]
    Live at The Glee Club, Birmingham, 1 November 2008: got (though the pronunciation of the whole phrase sounds a little odd) [no clapping. Shame on me.]
    2009-01-18 San Francisco: got [clapping]
    Live at Park West [2/28/09]: got [no clapping, or else I just don't hear it because it's a soundboard recording]
    Largo 02/20/2010: got [clapping]
    Live at the Triple Door Seattle 2/20/11: got [can't hear any clapping, because it's loud with the backing band]
    Live at Park West [4/22/11]: got [clapping that I can't hear on the soundboard recording with band, but he thans them for it]
    Live at the Double Door [06/16/12]: got [can't hear any clapping, for heaven's sake it's really loud with the backing band]

    Ladies and gentlemen, language simplification!

    ETA: Live at Park West [4/22/11], he also thanks the audience for clapping along, even though he has a drummer. I guess I'm doing the right thing!

    EATA: You know what I should have done? Noted which recordings had clapping. DONE.

    EYATA: FWIW, someone other than me started clapping in Union Chapel in 2011 and 2012 (but not 2009.) And clapping in Union Chapel sounds fantastic. They should call it Union Clapel.
  • Here is a video from San Francisco in September 2007.   He clearly (to me, anyway) says "got." 
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