Friday, December 10, 2010

Song of the week: Ben Kweller's "I Gotta Move"

Acting as his sort of "Born to Run", Ben Kweller puts his impeccably melodic songwriting abilities to good use in his 60's inspired bouncy pop masterpiece "I Gotta Move". Kweller has been around a while now, releasing his first independent album at the ripe old age of 13 with his band Radish, before eventually going solo. His voice still boyish even though he'll finally hit 30 next year, Kweller's music is the kind of pop music that speaks to me on a very instinctual level. He has a certain way with melodies that embed themselves into my mind and won't leave, not that I ever ask them to. And Ben doesn't overstay his welcome, from what I can tell he's only released 2 songs over 5 minutes in length.

Being the perfectionist that he apparently is, what he decided to do for his third album, the self-titled Ben Kweller, was play all of the instruments himself, in the great Paul McCartney/Prince/Stevie Wonder mold. Now I know I love the album (it was my #5 of the decade, in fact), but going in I expected Ben Kweller to be a very introspective release due to having only himself to play off of, which could've also been great, but one of the things I love the most about the album is that there is a ton of life and energy to it, best represented, I think, with "I Gotta Move".

It's a classic kinda concept now, the rock star writing about the days when he just wanted to get out of his town and make something of himself, but Kweller makes it seem fresh and infectious. The chorus is just that great basic pop songwriting (and the song clocks in at the classic 3-minute mark). And when he talks about life in his hometown and how he's gotta get away from it:

I just can't sit still, in this small town,
There's nothing more here, I hit the ceiling,
So in the morning I'll hit the highway.
Oh, I just can't stay

I like the straightforward and unpretentious way he goes about it, and when he follows in the next verse with:

Its time I broke out into the open,
You know I'll settle down again some day,
I need some new land, and form a rock band.
Oh, I just can't stay

It's less about home being a negative place that's dragging him down, the way Springsteen seemed to feel in "Born to Run" and others, and more about how it's given him all he's going to get and he just needs to move on. And, as with the best pop music, the song works whether you want to peruse the lyrics or not. It's got a wonderful hook of a chorus, chugs along at a great pace, and doesn't hang around too long. He's written more meaningful songs (he's described "Thirteen", detailing his relationship with his high school sweetheart, and now wife, Lizzy, as his best song, and he's probably right) but for sheer fun and exuberance, I go back to "I Gotta Move" more than any other song he's written.

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