One for Friday: Buffalo Tom, “Taillights Fade”

When I was at the college radio station, there were several bands I loved, those that seemed to sing my thoughts with every song. Then there were those bands that I admired. They didn’t necessarily hit me in my gut in the same way, but something about their passion, their intensity, their readily apparent ethic in each and every one of their songs stirred me differently. I didn’t become devoted to them in the same way, but I was always glad–even oddly proud–to play their music on the radio. Buffalo Tom was one of tho

It’s hardly an unorthodox choice, but they have no finer few minutes on record for me than “Taillights Fade,” the lead single off of their 1992 album Let Me Come Over. It has a yearning quality and a steady charge to it. It is a big powerful song played with an intricate intensity. It’s not just the songs message of departure that makes it sound like a spectacular ending, one last push against the limitations of experience and the constraints of the world. It is the sound of a band giving it all its got, throwing out material that, in its very urgency, is desperate to be heard.

My first and longest-held shift at the radio station was the Monday night edition of Soundstreams, a more freeform, request-driven program that ran from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., closing the station down for the night. Because of that, I have a special affection for the songs that seemed to sound a little better at the end of the night, when the enveloping darkness outside somehow enhanced their mood and character. “Taillights Fade” sounded spectacular as the last song of the night.

Buffalo Tom, “Taillights Fade”

(Disclaimer: My research was somewhat rushed and scrambled today, but it looks to me like most of the Buffalo Tom catalog is out of print.Surprisingly, Bill Janovitz’s solo work is available, and, I should add, highly recommended. This song is presented her with the understanding that there’s no good way to acquire it in a way that guarantees remuneration to both the artist and the proprietor of a local, independently-owned record store. Of course, I will still gladly remove it from my corner of the Interweb if I receive such a request from someone with due authority to make it.)

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