Broadway is dark tonight
See the young man sitting
In the old man's bar
Waiting for his turn to die
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A different kind of Broadway theater
Great moments in rock 'n' roll history: The Goo Goo Dolls were a garage band who were just messing around until they accidentally landed a gig. They were to play that night and they did not, as yet, have a name. So they sat down, gave it maybe five minutes' thought, and out popped "Goo Goo Dolls." Shrug. Meh, as good as any other name. What do you guys think? Uh, well, we can always rename the band later. Okay, fine, we'll go with it.
Yeah, that's about as fly as Generation Y gets. If Millennials were in charge of inventing the atom bomb, it would have ended up being a rolled-up piece of cardboard with the word "boom!" written on it with felt-tip marker. But they make some terrific bands, even if they're a little laid-back.
The Goo Goo Dolls have paid their dues. They've played at CBGB, which is rapidly becoming the benchmark for whether a band is taken seriously. They cut their first three albums from 1987 to 1990, and right after that they recorded a song which became part of the soundtrack for Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
. They've also done the "screwed by the record label as soon as they got popular" bit, breaking it off with Metal Blade to move on to release their sixth album, Dizzy Up the Girl
, through Warner Bros. Records. And what do you know, here we are!
From that same album, "Broadway" is a well-balanced song that showcases the Goo Goo Dolls' unique skills. Their music fills an alternative gap between grunge and pop, often called "post-grunge." While polished and professional, this song shows a glib streak of innovation, showing a promise of a new band with new things to say and new ways to look at music, always speaking to the current generation.
A landmark on the other Broadway
As for the subject of the song, Broadway is not about the theater world, but about the Broadway district of Buffalo, New York, the second-most-populated city in New York State. Often called "the Queen City," Buffalo has had to contend with being a huge city which would have gotten far more respect if it didn't have to compete with its big brother. It is a city of impressive Art-Deco-era architecture, rich culture, refined industry, a thriving scientific center specializing in medical and genetic study, a struggling football team and a booming economy. While it has had a small dip in recent years, it's actually doing much better than you'd expect.
The social scene is painted with a darker picture by the song's lyrics, however. Focusing on the blue-collar working class, the lyrics have just an edge of sting to them, pointing out how Buffalo working-class folk tend to spend their time merely existing rather than living. There's a bar or a church on every corner, hence they become a generation of "young men sitting in the old man's bar," then the next morning they're "praying to statues when they sober up." There's a lot of free-floating anger coming from a marginalized middle class that finds itself brushed past and ignored.
Which kind of points out something of the spirit of our times in the nation at large. We have a feeling that something's happening for somebody somewhere, but it's no longer around here or having anything to do with us. And our anger doesn't impress anyone, really, does it?
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