Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #55: The Only Answer by Mike Doughty (2000)
William Faulkner said that, "Memory believes before knowing remembers." I'm certain that I heard Mike Doughty perform "The Only Answer" the same night he rocked my socks with "True Dreams of Wichita" and "The Gambler." However, the bare-bones verse-chorus-verse may just be floating in the ether of wishful thinking. Regardless, "The Only Answer" is and remains a true piece of beauty.
It's four chords and a capo barely clocking two minutes. Hell, the first song I ever learned on guitar - some disembodied, authorless campfire song - was the same exact chords. So, in essence, I could have hammered out this gem when I was fifteen years old. Sort of.
Therein lies the beauty. Every kid with a guitar thinks they can not just play but write and rewrite this song. Imitation abounds. Case in point:
It's just not the same. Neither is this:
I'm not merely poking fun. Most of you imitators are earnest. Sure you've taught your fingers to play an F without that annoying fret buzz. Sure you think that you could easily tell some festering dalliance that, "Five years in the wrong I am assured/my name to you is just another word." But you can't. And that frustration better turn into appreciation or you'll be the guy at the party with the guitar.
The version on Skittish is further embellished with some double-tracked vocals and glowing organ, but the genius again is in the simplicity and execution.
Learning chords and lyrics do not a poet make.