The Old 97's Return to 1997 at the Pageant: Time Tripping at the Genesis of Alt-Country
Todd Owyoung Old 97's at the Pageant earlier this year.
Old 97s, with The Travoltas and Rhett Miller (solo)
Oct. 16, 2012
Music is a funny thing. Like photos or scent, songs have a way of making us remember the past. Late relatives. Swim class. That road trip to Dollywood with a jerk you never should have dated in the first place. Chances are good that, intentionally or not, you know exactly which tunes have accompanied your major and minor life events. Music is the glue that keeps all of this stuff together in your brain, ready to bounce around at the first note of a song you thought you had forgotten all about.
The Old 97s bounced St. Louis back to 1997 last night with a celebration of Too Far to Care, the album that helped legitimize and propel the burgeoning alt-country sound fifteen years ago. Performing the album in its entirety - and following that up with more recent tunes - the band reminded us where we were when we bought the record and where the country, the world and our lives were headed. Below, we've paired Too Far to Care songs with moments of significance from 1997, followed by a few notes on the show itself.
1. "Timebomb" - "I got a timebomb, in my mind, Mom. I hear it ticking, but I don't know why."
Andrew Cunanan murderes five people, including iconic Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace. Cunanan later commits suicide with the gun he had used to kill his victims.
2. "Barrier Reef" - "Midnight came and midnight went, and I thought I was the President."
Bill Clinton begins his second term as President of the United States, while Madeleine Albright is confirmed as the first female Secretary of State.
3. "Broadway" - "In a hotel room just off Times Square, they made a monster."
Timothy McVeigh is sentenced to death for detonating a bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995. Killing nearly 170 people, it is the deadliest act of terrorism until Sept. 11, 2011.
4. "Salome" - "I'll find another lady, and you'll wreck another man."
Madonna and personal trainer Carlos Leon call off their relationship, just a few months after their daughter Lourdes is born.
5. "W. TX Teardrops" - "And I cried so much it dug a rut they call the Rio Grande."
The Oilers football team moves from Houston to Memphis. The team now is in Nashville and is called the Tennessee Titans.
6. "Melt Show" - "You showed me paradise."
Titanic premieres late in the year, pushing the line, "I'm the king of the world!" onto audiences. The film goes on to win a number of Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
7. "Streets of Where I'm From" - "The streets of where I'm from are paved with hearts instead of gold."
Diana, Princess of Wales, dies after a car accident in Paris. Her funeral at Westminster Abbey in London is watched on television by more than 2 billion people. [I was studying in Paris at the time and was struck by how the city grieved.]