I’m so excited. I love music from the 1990s – “new”/alternative rock really hit its stride then, particularly with the advent of grunge from the Northwest region of the US. But in addition to grunge, the ’90s had some pretty amazing rock come out of California. The Chili Peppers continued their reign of awesomeness, Incubus was beginning to hit it big near the end of the decade, and Sublime became everyone’s favorite band to smoke up with. The Red Hot Chili Peppers & Incubus are still alive and well and going strong, but Sublime was not as lucky. Their lead singer, Bradley Nowell, died of a heroin overdose at age 28 in 1996. (WHEN will these guys learn? HEROIN WILL KILL YOU. Jeez.) Their most popular/well-known album, the eponymous “Sublime” (containing hits like “What I Got,” “Wrong Way,” and “Santeria”) was actually released after Bradley’s death. He didn’t even live to see the major success of his own band. So, this is all very tragic for Sublime fans. But then, the Dirty Heads & Rome Ramirez happened. Rome, whose voice sounds damn close to Bradley’s, has joined the surviving members of Sublime to create… SUBLIME WITH ROME! They’ve been touring all summer & plan to produce a studio album – their first in over a decade. Is Rome Ramirez Bradley Nowell? No. Can anyone ever fully replace Brad? No. But Rome does a damn good job anyway. And these guys, the Dirty Heads – they teamed up with Rome to do THE most awesome, catchy, Sublime-like song of the last decade and a half: “Lay Me Down” which is officially my favorite song of the moment, and I’m going to share it with you in just a moment. But, in typical Sheepery fashion I have to explain WHY it’s awesome before you listen to it.
1) It’s like Sublime. I mean, clearly that makes it awesome, just by itself.
2) The storyline of this song is this: Two people (Bonnie & Clyde-like figures) commit a robbery and are on the run. They dream only of getting away from the law and retiring to paradise together with their ill-gotten gains. The sheriff catches up with them, confronts them, and they shoot him. Now they can finally relax and enjoy their new life on a beautiful Mexican beach. Ok, so it’s pretty messed up if you take it literally. The story is actually very much like a cross between “I Shot the Sheriff” & “Take the Money and Run.” Both of those songs are very popular, despite the…unsavory actions of the people featured in them. Why is that? Do all Americans (and Jamaicans) secretly want to shoot police officers & rob their neighbors? I doubt it. I think these kinds of songs are popular for 2 reasons: 1) In the case of “Take the Money & Run” & my new favorite “Lay Me Down,” the songs describe a thrilling (and unrealistic) adventure – two lovers on the run from the law, traveling, partying, having a good time, etc. and 2) All 3 songs are really about escape (ok, “I Shot the Sheriff” is about social injustice in Jamaica, but just roll with me here, ok?). All 3 songs have a figure that represents The Man – Sheriff John Brown, Billie Mac (the detective down in Texas), & Sheriff Sparks & Billie Green. The Man could really be anything that you find oppressive, unfair, or just downright boring – your job, your boss, the government, your parents, your incredibly dull, boring life, etc. In two of the 3 cases, the hero(es) of the songs defeated The Man and escaped to freedom and paradise with someone they love, all while having a big adventure along the way. In Mr. Marley’s song, the Man is defeated but consequences abound. Our other two pairs of heroes get off totally free. People just like that idea – not of actually gunning down people, but of getting out from underneath an unpleasant person or situation and ending up in a much better, happier, warmer place, preferably with a loved one and lots of money that you didn’t have to work hard to get.
3) It’s a perfect summer song. And I’m so jealous of everyone in the video. Why can’t I be on a beach in Mexico with my other half, playing in the waves and hanging out with a band in a bar? Real life is just so LAME sometimes. I think I’ll distract myself (and you) with some musical fantasy: