Friday, August 4, 2017

Certain Songs #952: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – “Hey Rusty” | Medialoper

Album: Mainstream
Year: 1987

One of the reasons I loved Mainstream so much in the summer of 1988 was that it was the perfect album to put on at 2:00 in the morning when you was alone and depressed and trying desperately not to call the person you still had feelings for because you were trying to be oh so strong and you can feel your resolve weakening and collapsing in the face of your impending insomnia.

Or so it seemed. In any event, “Hey Rusty” was the story of why that phone call probably shouldn’t be made.

He’s called her up — probably just a bit too late at night — and while the music is quiet and hushed, pleads his case, trying to remind her of the times before everything changed. Because that’s always a good idea.

Hey Rusty
It’s a long time
It’s like yesterday
Stealing cigarettes
And laughing as they chased us
Down the boulevards

But she’s having none of it, of course, and as Neil Clark’s guitar starts circling around itself and Steven Irvine plays builds towards anthemic beat on the drums, he’s reduced to tears.

Hey Rusty don’t hang up
I feel so young
Hey Rusty don’t hang up
‘Cause we’re still young
I just need one friend

Lloyd Cole is singing this at the top of his register, with all of his signature voice cracks & hiccups firmly in place, but the way he slips into a near-falsetto on the word “feel” just slays me every single time, all of the frustration and pain and sadness he’s feeling just blasting through.

But of course, it’s futile, and as Neil Clark reaches for a massive U2-style riff at the climax, not even Cole’s insistence that they start over with the stealing cigarettes is going to sway her. And all he can do is ask her not to hang up, as if talking some more is going to magically convince her to change her mind, but it’s also all that he has right now, and he knows that once the phone call is over, if she’s not convinced now, she never will be so hey Rusty don’t hang up.

But of course, she does.

“Hey Rusty”

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