Promises of what I seemed to be only watched the time go by. –Scott Weiland, “Interstate Love Song”
Sorry the ’90s Song of the Week has been missing. Things got busy, though sadly in the literal sense. It was only a matter of time before I posted a Stone Temple Pilots song on here, and though I would have liked to avoid such an obvious choice, here it is. “Interstate Love Song” was the third single off Purple, the follow-up to 1992’s critically-bashed Core. Blah, blah, blah ripped off Pearl Jam, blah, blah, blah. Now that that’s out of the way, Purple stands as one of my favorite albums of all-time because it holds the rare distinction of my own tolerance of every track. It exists in its entirety on my iTunes playlist. The only greater honor I can think to give music to to say that I’ve made love to it. Despite my own predilections, I never had the courage to play the album when things got busy in the figurative sense.
Like so many of STP’s most popular songs, “Interstate Love Song” is about a failing/failed relationship. Mostly, it’s just a really good song with an instantly recognizable guitar riff and sing-along chorus that’s so catchy everyone can belt it out despite not really understanding what the hell Weiland is talking about. Maybe that’s the third greatest honor which can be bestowed upon a song.
I’ve made it through the first few minutes of comedian Bill Burr’s Netflix stand-up special “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.” One of the early segments features a semi-logical defense of Donald Sterling’s (the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers) racism. Burr referenced Sterling with Paula Deen (though never mentioning either by name) as examples of people who exhibited racist behavior because they are old. His pseudo-argument is that they grew up in an environment in which racism was not only acceptable, but the status quo. Obviously, his bit is meant for laughs more than a true defense of reprehensible behavior. Burr then deftly segued into the overall idea of the world passing people by. In a stroke of narrative genius, he applied the same concept to parenthood.
Essentially, Burr related the concept to the “bubble” around parents as they try to see their children through college. I’m paraphrasing from memory, but Burr said something like “If you have four kids, that’s like a 25-year sentence where you’re not paying attention to anything else and the world just passes you by.” He then acted out an adult coming out of this bubble years later by playing imitating ragtime (or something) music on a record player to drive the point home. He’s right. I only have the one kid, and it’s super-difficult to keep track of popular culture. It requires an amount of time and effort I simply do not have and am not willing to put forward.
I hear “Interstate Love Song” everywhere. I hear it when I eat dinner at Chili’s. I hear it when I’m shopping for groceries at Times. I hear it on radio stations I would never connect with rock, alternative, or alternative-rock. “Interstate Love Song” is retro-mainstream. How the hell did that happen?
Well, 20 years have passed since Purple was released. Since then, I’ve graduated high school and college, got married, signed up for a mortgage, and had a kid. While I was dealing with all of those things inside of my bubble, the world kept right on hurtling forward, and promises of what I seemed to be wasn’t even aware enough to watch the time go byyyyyy-hiiiiiii-hiiii.