I’LL ADMIT IT, I was late to the party on becoming a fan of Nada Surf. I remember when “Popular” was popular, and I lumped them in with a slew of other late 90’s bands that had a big hit thanks to a TV show. Even though friends would be incredulous that I wasn’t too familiar with them – me, a lover of melodic rock/power pop – I never heeded their urging to check Nada Surf out.
Well, I’m on their bandwagon fully now. Four years ago someone sent me their then-new album Tbe Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy and I embarrassingly went overboard without a life raft. I know, I know, at least a decade late! I saw them on that tour and was instantly blown away and I vowed to never miss them when they came to town.
So, to get psyched for Nada Surf at the Fine Line tonight, here’s five songs that blow me away every time I hear them.
“When I Was Young” Possibly my favorite Nada Surf song. From the opening acoustic guitar and the plaintive vocals, this song floored me. The lyrics abstractly reminded me of when I lived in Davis, CA and I still had a child’s illusion of what a “traditional” family was. “Carried pictures, in our pretend wallets/of ourselves, in heavily edited 70’s/with better handwriting/with longer days at the park/dinners with no drama/the Professor and Mary Ann…” And then: “When I was young/I didn’t know if I was better off asleep or up/Now I’ve grown up/I wonder what was that world I was dreaming of.” I still wonder what in the world I was dreaming of.
“Always Love” The best Nada Surf songs are effortless: if you’re a fan of melody and a great chorus, you’ll love their songs instantly. This is one of those songs and and the lyrics hit me instantly, too. “To make a mountain of/your life is just a choice/but I never learned enough/to listen to the voice that told me: always love.” Its amazing how a song can become so personal: I tried to make those lyrics my mantra the last few years, and live that sentiment. Only to realize now that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be the only one for whom that applied. Those lyrics are a testament to the failure that I wrongly thought, and was repeatedly told, was my own.
“Out Of The Dark” From their excellent new album, You Know Who You Are. Just a great, easy, mid-tempo song with a melody that sticks in your ear. There’s not even a chorus, per se, the melody thru the verses have such a great hook, no chorus is needed. Bonus points for the fun, triumphant horns that really motor this tune along. Love this line: “Not everyone can make New York feel new/Or wipe away the past that brings you sadness/But you’d be surprised by what moving can do/Having it work and turn down madness.”
“I Like What You Say” A great dichotomy: the verses are melancholy, then a pre-chorus bursts forth, bright and upbeat. After the second time it falls into a triumphant bridge as the vocals soar with the uplifting refrain, “Baby, I only want to make you happy.”
The lyrics follow the same theme, with the verses lamenting being with someone “They say you have to have somebody/They say you have to be someone/They say if you’re not lonely alone/boy there is something wrong.” Then comes the happy realization of being in a relationship: “I like what you say…” and “baby, I only want to make you happy”
“Inside of Love” A deceptively simple ballad, the song chugs along, building throughout the verses, with dense guitars and strings, into a beautiful chorus: “I want to know what it’s like/on the inside of love/standing at the gates/I see the beauty above.” For the folks who just can’t fall in love..