Empty Cans – The Streets

streets-grandSongs towards the end of Streets records really appeal to me. I’m tackling this one first because it’s the closest. A Grand Don’t Come for Free is a concept album that tells a story throughout all the songs. This is the finale, but it has a twist to it: it covers a couple different endings. I like this song because it’s self-blaming. When things get hard, I can find myself exactly where Mike is at the beginning of this song– alone, angry, broke, upset, pushing people away. He’s lost his girl, money, friends, TV, and it looks like things can’t get worse. It plays out, then rewinds. On the second ending Skinner adds some piano and puts a positive spin on things. At the end of this section he introduces a chorus, which lays out what The Streets do so well– telling you how it is in the plainest of words: “It’s the end of something I did not want to end, beginning of hard times to come, but something that was not meant to be is done…” It plays out like a brilliant sequel– callbacks to the negative ending (the first) in the positive one (the second). I remember it giving me chills when I used to listen to it in college. I left the song with the moral that is obvious: you have to depend on yourself in this life. People won’t always have your back, even when they do love you. I lost this lesson over time, and I’m okay with that. I think it’s better and means more to think people do have your back. Life is long and hard and if you have support, it can feel a bit more bearable. Without it, holding all that weight on your own can be a hassle. I think Mike Skinner realizes this– the celebration at Mike’s house when he finds the missing money, his departure from home at the very end. He’s seeking out others, despite disappointments. That’s what life is really about.

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