TRACK LIFE: Cracker – “Low”
Welcome to Track Life, a new daily column in which Jacob Knight shares what he thinks to be the best in music, both new and old.
While watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower recently, I was struck by my ability to pinpoint exactly which year the drama was occurring based on the songs writer/director Stephen Chbosky had chosen to score the scene. So when I heard Cracker’s “Low” playing in the background of the first party Charlie, our guide through teenage suburban Pittsburgh, enters with his newfound friends, I was immediately transported back to 1994.
I was only eleven — a few years behind the protagonists of the film — but had already bought Cracker’s Kerosene Hat after saving up my “chore allowance” for three weeks straight. The video for “Low” had been playing damn near on repeat on MTV, with a black and white Sandra Bernhard beating the shit out of lead singer David Lowery in a desert boxing ring. It was the coolest thing I had even seen in my eleven years on the planet, and the song refused to leave my head all summer. So, following a phone call to double check the price, I immediately walked down to the corner record store of my little shithole Massachusetts town and snagged the cassette off of the rack.
It was the tail end of August and, even that far north, it was still hotter than Hell. But that didn’t stop me from climbing into my dad’s Jeep Wrangler, firing the engine and listening to the song in the driveway on repeat (my mom wouldn’t let me have a radio in the actual house until years later, for fear of losing her sanity to my volume). I loved that repeating guitar riff and the simplicity of the lyrics. As a grown man, I still gravitate toward Lowery’s bluesy compositions, but now realize just how silly some of his lyrics were (“like some junkie cosmonaut”? Sheesh). Also, it should be stated that I no longer think that the video is “the coolest thing ever”, as my pre-teen reptile brain simply saw black and white violence and gravitated toward the starkness of it all.
Cracker would have a a few other hits (including “Get Off This“, which is still pretty catchy) during their short career, but never replicated the balls out riffing that was “Low”. This limited success almost marks the band as being a “one hit wonder”, but if you’re going to have one bonafide smash under your belt, it might as well be good enough to get referenced in a great teen coming-of-age film twenty years later.
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