The other day, while doing research for this series, I re-watched the music video for "Interstate Love Song," and one of the notes I made read thus: "I don't know who this asshat with the nose is, but apparently he's been kicked out of his home?" (For those of you who have never seen it, here's the context.)
The bad news is that I still don't understand why the dude with the nose was in the video. The good news is that it doesn't really matter, because, as it turns out, "Interstate Love Song" transcends the limitations of its music video, and how. To me, this is the crux of STP's career: it's the song during which the listener begins to realize that these guys really know their shit.
A still from the video for "Interstate Love Song," featuring Scott Weiland with Robert DeLeo in the background.
Let's ignore the lyrics for a minute (for crying out loud, Scott, what is a hand in rusted shame?) and skip straight to the music. EVERYTHING about this song is right--it has hooks galore, stellar work on every instrument, crisp sounds, and an immediately recognizable bluesy opening that transitions smoothly into a straight-ahead embodiment of everything that was good about alternative rock music of the 1990s.
Beyond that, the chorus is one of the most sing-along-able out there, and everyone can relate to the words coming out of Weiland's mouth: "Only yesterday you lied." Whether it's a friend, lover, or relative behind the prevarication, we have all been there, and so one of the many reasons the song resonates so well is because it provides a type of therapy for us. After all, isn't catharsis one of the main reasons we interact with art?
On the technical side of things, although Weiland would go on to experiment with other interesting vocal styles, both for STP's third album, Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop and his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues, he wouldn't sound as good as he did on "Interstate Love Song" until 1999's aptly-titled No. 4 came along. And as for the rest of the band, they followed a similar path by exploring different musical styles, but they were at their best here until "Seven Caged Tigers" came along on Tiny Music. (In my opinion, the only other song on Purple that rivals "Interstate Love Song" for tightly-wrapped proficiency is "Pretty Penny.")
Fun fact: remember that time Chuck Klosterman said STP was unoriginal? He also wrote once that,
On occasion, rock pundits will begrudgingly admit that "Interstate Love Song" was among the better rock songs of the 1990s. These pundits are wrong. "Interstate Love Song" was the best song of the 1990s. It's better than "Smells like Teen Spirit," "You Oughta Know," and even "Ice Ice Baby."
Well. Isn't that an interesting turn of events?
Come back tomorrow to read all about the perks and pitfalls of writing songs about your wife (or maybe your girlfriend?), as embodied by "Still Remains."
Image via Below Empty.
Image via Below Empty.
PS As for that article cited above, I cannot find a link to it on the Internet. What I can tell you, however, is that it's called "Temple of the Dog" and was an entry in Klosterman's column Rant and Roll Over in Spin (the very same publication in which he denounced STP as unoriginal, no less). It appeared years ago, when I ripped it out of the magazine and stuffed it into a notebook for future reference. Based on the evidence (Klosterman cites Weiland's drug arrest of 17 May 2003), I'd guess it ran sometime that summer.