‘Coney Island,’ Good Old War

Coney Island, Good Old WarI’ve finally begun my 30-day song challenge, albeit about 30 days late. It’s the latest Facebook meme in which you list songs that are responses to the question of the day, sort of like the old slam books from high school. (“Favorite song to slow dance to?” “Favorite number?”)

Day 1: Favorite song.

This is like asking Rebecca Black where she’d like to sit. Currently, I have 250 songs on my iPod that are rated 5 stars. These, to me, are all masterpieces. How do I pick one jewel? Besides, I’ve already written about what is probably my favorite song ever, “That Thing You Do!”

So I chose a song that is currently getting worn out on my iPod – and yes, it’s rated five stars. I’m currently going through every damn song from the 2011 SXSW Music Festival, and my ears are bleeding from hip-hop and death metal barbarism, sprinkled with bleeps from electronic dance music and the twang of Americana. So to give myself hope that you can find a gem among thousands of pieces of coal, I have ventured back to my mix from the 2009 SXSW Festival and found Good Old War’s “Coney Island.”

The accompaniment to this song is simple and peppy – an acoustic guitar with a chugging leg slap beat that evokes an image of a few guys sitting on a front porch. But the chords are achingly beautiful – when you hear it, you wonder why all songs don’t have this chord progression. It’s that refreshing and heart-wrenching.

Singer Keith Goodwin laments going back to Coney Island, a city that’s “already taken everything,” where he’ll reminisce about why he hates it there. It’s a sentiment many people have about their hometown – too many good memories swallowed by thoughts of what drove you away. And while you nod your head and get lost in the three-part harmonies that somehow transcend the chords, you find yourself feeling happy and sad, thinking of an empty amusement park filled with the scents of hot dogs and cotton candy. And all this time, your foot is just tapping away.

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