Welcome to Alternative Echo’s “31 Days of Songs.” For the entirety of October, we will be tackling a different theme each day in an effort to spread appreciation for some of our favorite tracks.
I miss the days when listening to the radio was something you enjoyed, instead of a consolation prize for when your Spotify isn’t working. Back when guitar solos and pop-punk ruled the airwaves.
It’s amazing that the bands of my childhood are still pumping out hit records. Blink-182 just released Nine, Jimmy Eat World has an album slated for this month, and Rob Thomas dropped his third solo effort earlier this year. The incredible part is that, even after all these years, these musicians are still killing it.
But today is not for today. Today is for yesterday. It’s time to take it back roughly 20 years. Let the nostalgia commence.
Day 3: Throwback Thursday
“Bright Lights” by Matchbox Twenty
Speaking of Rob Thomas, let’s take a look at Matchbox Twenty. Try to think of a band to better define the late 90s/early 2000s. With massive hits like “If You’re Gone,” “Real World,” and “Unwell,” there’s no doubting the hold these rockers had on listeners worldwide, especially in America. I mean, how many bands can say their debut album went 12x Platinum?
Among the band’s 10 charted singles, we have today’s entry for Throwback Thursday. A song that deserves to be shout-sung at least once a week on the commute home. A song that deserves more attention than nearly all of Matchbox Twenty’s other releases.
“Bright Lights” peaked at the No. 23 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003 and has stayed in my heart ever since. Of course, it has a much deeper meaning to me now than it did back then, but the fact remains the same: this is a song you can’t allow yourself to forget.
When we think of great modern lyricists, we don’t automatically jump to Rob Thomas. But why not? Even as a solo artist, the man charted nine singles, including the hugely successful “Smooth,” which he wrote with Santana. He was even awarded the esteemed Hal David Spotlight Award from the Songwriting Hall of Fame for his lasting songwriting influence. You can hear it in every track he’s ever released. “Bright Lights” is no exception.
“She got out of town/on a railway, New York bound/Took all except my name/Another alien on Broadway.”
Not all loves are made to last. Some things and some people are only meant to stay in your life for a short amount of time. The girl he wanted to spend his life with left to embark on a new adventure in the big city, leaving him behind with nothing to hold onto. In his despair, he pleads to her to come back home:
“Let that city take you in/Let that city spit you out/Let that city take you down/For God’s sake, turn around.”
It’s that last line, that heart-wrenching cry for his love to return, that elevated this already great song to an immeasurable high.
You don’t have to have lost the love of your life to appreciate this piece of art. Loss is loss, and you can interpret this track in a way that resonates with you.
And if you’re using it as a way to lament in Matchbox Twenty’s absence from the music industry as of late, you can rejoice in the fact that Rob Thomas himself has started teasing a 2020 reunion tour for the band. Let’s hope this tour includes new music.