This is all just a very long winded intro to our Song of the Week, So Long Cruel World by genre defying Detroit-based band, Blanche. If you know Blanche at all, you probably know them because the main dude, singer and songwriter, Dan John Miller, aptly portrayed the stoic Luther Perkins in the film, I Walk The Line.
2004 witnessed the release of Blanche's first album, If We Can't Trust the Doctors. It's an interesting stew of bluegrass, country, punk and surf all mixed together into a dark cauldron. In the middle of the album is our maudlin little song (as most of theirs are) entitled So Long Cruel World. It's a prime example, in my estimation, of a song that soars because of it's musical arrangement (festoons?) more than the structure itself. Opening with antimelodic pedal steel, a simple jazzy little bass riff played by Tracee Miller (married to Dan) on a Framus Star Bass (very similar to the one I used to play, by the way!) brings the song into whatever structure it might pretend to have. A simple banjo riff joins as the ethereal pedal steel falls into a melodic riff. Then Dan Miller ads a guitar riff worthy of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western which twangs us into the whoa-is-me vocals. The band continues to add elements and riffs that lay on top of each other and skitter over the beats like a goony bird trying to stick a landing. There is little to no central musical framework. In between all of this - and it is in-between and not "over it" -- Dan Miller's hillbilly inflected vocals dramatizing one's suicidal yearnings are importantly backed up by the detached vocals of Tracee in a back and forth reminiscent of the work done in the early 80's by John Doe and Exene Cervenka.
In the end the lack of structure and the lack of genre (who's in charge here anyway?) to the song is what I think makes the song so interesting. It's not for everybody, I'll admit that. But give the song a few listens and tell me if it doesn't become a way-homer for you.