|by Natasha Theobald
When I think about RESCUE ME as a show, I think first of the times it has made me laugh. I love the scenes of the guys hanging out at the firehouse, giving each other the business. Whether laughing at something acerbic from Tommy or something witty from Lou, the Chief’s exasperation or Sean’s simplicity, I love it best when I am laughing. What I didn’t realize when I first picked up the soundtrack is that the moments accentuated with music on the show don’t tend to be the laughing moments. The music here has been used to add weight and drama to the deeper, darker, and more moving moments of the first three seasons. Once I adjusted my expectations to that realization, though, I was able to love this soundtrack for what it is – a great mix of alternative tracks which creates an overall mood of dark reality.
I don’t know how long I have owned my TiVo, as it has become such an appendage to me in my television viewing that I can’t imagine a time before it. Because of TiVo, I tend not to waste precious entertainment time on such things as opening titles, as they are the same every week anyway. I have one exception, and that is the opening titles for RESCUE ME. Jack Leary, the son of Denis Leary, is listed as a consulting producer on the soundtrack, and it turns out he really deserves it. Not only has he contributed many ideas for music used on the show, it was Jack who found the title track, C’Mon C’Mon from The Von Bondies, a Detroit group who got their start opening for The White Stripes. According to Denis Leary’s liner notes, they were looking for a song which would “feel like a fire truck rolling balls out down Broadway.” You should be watching the show, so you should know how the song goes. If you aren’t watching the show, you still have a couple of weeks to marathon the first three seasons before the new stuff starts. Get to it!
Famous people have famous friends, and the combinations sometimes can be surprising. Apparently Leary counts among his famous friends one Greg Dulli, who you may know from The Afghan Whigs and, more recently, The Twilight Singers. Dulli appears on this soundtrack twice, as himself and with the Twilight group. The songs are Bonnie Brae and Pussywillow. Dulli has a searing voice and with lyrics like “when you play with fire, take your fate” and “situation dire,” the song seems more than appropriate, though the lyrics, in fact, are in reference to drug abuse. Pussywillow isn’t quite as desperate. It seems like a guilty love song, something you love that you shouldn’t.
Bluesy duo The Black Keys is on board with I’ll Be Your Man, and it had me from the opening chords. “Times get tough….Hold on to me….I’m the one who’s gonna show when there’s nobody….” The show is filled with complex characters whose actions you may love or hate, but essentially, these are firefighters. No matter how flawed the characters may be in their personal lives, there is something heroic and grand about what they can and will do, and that insight is never lost. This song takes masculinity and makes it sing, rough, the way you like it, with a take me or leave me bent.
For something a little softer, you can turn to Ray LaMontagne and All the Wild Horses, “tethered with tears in their eyes.” The song is about freedom, about getting away. It is sad and slow and pretty beautiful. But Wolf Parade is right there to pick things up again with Shine a Light. It rocks while “waiting for something that’ll never arrive.” While both songs seem lyrically hopeless, they don’t ring of resignation. Both have a quality of breaking free from any constraints, finding a way to stand apart.
Our Lady Peace has one of my favorite songs on the disc, Wipe That Smile Off Your Face. It has so much attitude and such honesty, matched with a hopelessly likable melody, that you almost can’t resist. “I’m not your friend and I won’t pretend that I’ve come here for peace.” Then, in the chorus, “This is war, and I’m gonna wipe that smile off your face.” I’m a peaceful person, but some people just have smug, smirky little faces and you want to see them get some sort of comeuppance. I won’t name names.
All of the songs here are so rich that I could recount lyrics and praise voices endlessly. Two male voices with something to say, Griffin House and Tom McRae, come to mind. There are tunes from Stereophonics, Rubyhorse, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The Subways. The Devlins are here, too, doing U2’s Love is Blindness featuring Sharon Corr. My only caveat is that this soundtrack may end up costing you, as you are sure to want more music from many of the included artists. Beware, bank accounts!
While the soundtrack has a nice collection of various artists, the songs stick closely to the same vein, as in men singing about being men. If you like the type of music, though, there will be nothing disappointing about the compilation. Lyrically challenging and sonically interesting, there is plenty here into which you may delve.
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originally posted: 05/31/07 01:18:11
last updated: 05/31/07 01:22:15