#127 Everclear – Songs From An American Movie, Vol.1 : Learning How To Smile (2000)

After experiencing a fair amount of success with their previous 2 major label releases Art Alexicas, the creative force behind Everclear decided it was time for him to make a solo album. After spending time in the studio working on the solo effort with limited success, he scraped the idea and decided to bring the group in and make it an Everclear record. The result would be more of Art’s self described “White Trash Rock”, the 2nd best-selling album for the band and the beginning of the end for the group in its original configuration. The first single released was the profoundly sad and yet beautiful “Wonderful’, it would go on to be the bands most commercially successful release. It tells the story of divorce from the child’s perspective. The first verse tells about the child hearing his parents fight and how he tries to block it out, remembering back to what it was like before his parents started fighting. The second verse describes the child going to school and pretending to his friends that everything is all right at home. Finally the child lashes out at his parents, not wanting to comprehend that his parents have begun to grow apart and see other people. Art has a talent to take these bleak moments of life and articulate them in a beautiful poetic manner. The records second single, which was  decidedly more upbeat and was one of the bands more pop oriented songs,  was the nostalgic “AM Radio”. It is Art’s own personal tribute to growing up in the 1970’s and for those of us that share his vintage, it is fun romp thru this tune and its references to 70’s culture like Led Zeppelin concerts and Chico & The Man. And who among us doesn’t sing along to the songs outro chant “We like pop, we like soul, we like rock, but we never liked disco.” The final single was a cover of Van Morrison’s classic Brown Eyed Girl. I have 3 different versions of this song in my collection: Van’s original, Jimmy Buffett’s rendition and this one by Everclear. This one is my favorite. One of my absolute favorite Everclear songs is also on this release, the tragically romantic Learning How To Smile. It tells the 5 year love story of 2 members that languish near the bottom of society’s conventional norms. They fight thru poverty and addiction to forge a relationship that is strong enough to persevere despite life’s daily adversities. This song contains some of, in my opinion Art’s best lyrics….You say there is no perfect place, I say I know this is true, I’m just learning how to smile that’s not easy to do..&..I can remember all the hell that happens everyday, when you smile and touch my face you make it all just go away. After the release of this record troubles between the band and the record company arose, then the trouble extended to the members of the band, these problems combined with the bands next two albums having no commercial success would lead to the group disbanding. Art would reform a few years later with a new line up, but that is a story for a later entry.

Other Everclear on this blog : #149 Everclear – So Much For The Afterglow (1997)

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