Today marks another rare reunion I had with something I haven't heard for over a decade.
I was driving to one of my final classes (it's the final week for this semester, and I have no exams) when I turned on the radio to catch the midsection of 'Can't Stop' by Jacksoul.
Of course, I had no clue what the song was called or who did it at the time. I just knew I recognized it and had liked it from back in the days when I'd listen to Kool FM every night as I went to sleep. I'd liked it then, and I know I like it now.
I'd seen a small portion of the music video all those years ago, and that memory came to me. I remember someone standing on a rooftop most of the time in black and white or another colour, and for some reason some woman was screaming most of the time. I didn't recall hearing her scream on the radio, but she did in the video, which made me wonder, at that time, what was wrong with it.
Hearing it now, the woman screams in whatever version exists, but in the background largely, and just the main refrain of the song. It's very simple both musically as well as lyrically (I believe he just repeats the same lyrics twice in each verse). It's one of those songs that has two versions of the same chorus, one quieter and the other louder and dominant.
I looked up Jacksoul. They came together in Toronto (Canadian! That's why Boom 99.7 played them!) in 1996 and had 'Can't Stop' as their biggest hit in 2000. That's fourteen years ago. It almost won a Juno, but that went to Nelly Furtado with 'I'm Like the Bird'* or whatever her debut was called, bird something or other. I never get the title right. The tragedy with Jacksoul, though, wasn't the Juno loss but lead singer Haydain Neale's unfortunate traffic accident and later death (unrelated to each other). After spending two years recovering from an accident where a car collided with him, he finished a new album with Jacksoul before succumbing to lung cancer (though he was a non-smoker) in 2009. The new album was released hardly weeks after he died.
As for the song, it's awesome in terms of the vocals (and I also mean backing vocal harmonies) and the simple musical progression (a 1-7 progression). It's in F and largely uses acoustic guitar. I just love the voices and the progression, really, as well as the desperate lyrics.
Trumping all of that is how perfect the song feels to me in terms of aligning with my own focuses. It's about unrequited love (like most songs) but it has a desperate take on it, with lines like 'I know you're somewhere in the city drunk and holding someone else/my senses are set to explode' and 'it's so black in this place/and I start scaring myself/I question my own mental health/can anybody feel me at all.' Not that I feel that desperate about anyone, or feel so down and dark, but like, my own obsession with certain people in my past (like those dreams I had a few weeks ago). I could question my own mental health there if I wanted. The other day, I decided to look at that popular photography page everyone I have on Facebook follows, that 'Humans of New York' page, and found an image of an identical - virtually identical - looking girl to the one I stared at in high school (might as well tag this with 'In the City'). It was a coincidental stumble upon thing that has me looking at it and listening to this song and laughing like crazy at my own issues, the way I do that and make connections and focus on that. The image of this girl made my day. There's a sound effect in the dominant chorus that just makes me think of my own crazy mind and the connections it makes, the focuses I have and stumble upon and connect, and I can't stop laughing as a result, inwards at myself. Almost in the manner a drunken person might look at himself on the inside, see his virtually pathetic issues...and simply start laughing at the character he is. That's what this does for me, except I don't think I'm pathetic, just crazy and inane in my own way. A mostly good, harmless way.
Kudos once again to Boom 99.7 for reuniting me with something I'm really loving at this moment. I can kind of identify with it, at least in my own crazy obsessions, and it's very pleasing to the ear. I'm very sorry Haydain Neale died. His daughter appears as the girl in the video above. She's probably my age (I was nine when this came in out 2000). I'm just glad I can add yet another Canadian band to my list and appreciate something I haven't heard for so long. It's awesome...I can't stop loving this song.
*It's "I'm Like a Bird." I looked it up.