The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

Stuck Between Stations by The Hold Steady

When my wife and I bought our first house, it was a small two-bedroom doer upper. It needed plenty of work, but the most memorable was the asbestos removal. Obviously asbestos has a dangerous reputation, but at the same time, we never would have realised that we had asbestos in the kitchen floor surface if my wife wasn’t an architect, and would have ended up sanding it or something. We took plenty of precautions; I wore a mask, I wet the asbestos thoroughly, and disposed of it responsibly. I worked in two hour shifts, and put on a CD loudly in the adjoining room (loud enough to go through the wall since the door was sealed).

But on one occasion, I cycled through to the wrong mode on the CD player, and mistakenly set it to repeat one track continuously instead of the entire album. The track was ‘Stuck Between Stations’ (my stereo was Stuck On One Track!) by The Hold Steady, and amazingly I still enjoy it, despite once hearing it 28.8 times in a row.

It’s a representative track for The Hold Steady – a full bodied sound that draws from the E Street Band, with Tad Kubler’s crunchy riffs and Franz Nicolay’s flashy keyboards. Craig Finn’s lyrics are literate narratives of disaffected youth veering between sin and redemption, although there’s not a lot of redemption in this specific track.

There are nights when I think Sal Paradise was right.
Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.
Sucking off each other at the demonstrations
Making sure their makeup’s straight
Crushing one another with colossal expectations.
Dependent, undisciplined, and sleeping late.

She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian.
She was a damn good dancer but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend.
She likes the warm feeling but she’s tired of all the dehydration.
Most nights are crystal clear
But tonight it’s like it’s stuck between stations
On the radio.

The devil and John Berryman
Took a walk together.
They ended up on Washington
Talking to the river.
He said ‘I’ve surrounded myself with doctors
And deep thinkers.
But big heads with soft bodies
Make for lousy lovers.’
There was that night that we thought John Berryman could fly.
But he didn’t
So he died.

She said ‘You’re pretty good with words
But words won’t save your life.’
And they didn’t.
So he died.

He was drunk and exhausted but he was critically acclaimed and respected.
He loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn out winters.
He likes the warm feeling but he?s tired of all the dehydration
Most nights were kind of fuzzy
But that last night he had total retention.

These Twin Cities kisses
Sound like clicks and hisses.
We all tumbled down and
Drowned in the Mississippi River.

We drink
We dry up
Then we crumble to dust
Songwriters: Craig Finn / Fran


  1. Wow. I think that’s probably how often I listened to that track over the course of a day listening to 6 Music when the track was still young enough to be on its playlist! Seriously, I tip my hat to you for not tiring of it, cause that would have a real negative impact on the album!

    I’m gonna fire up this album later… easily my favourite of theirs.

  2. Sal Paradise. On the Road. I can say I’ve never had any such encounter at a demonstration. I’d remember that. Your comparison to Springsteen is apt, especially early Springsteen with all that piano, impressionistic lyrics. Chords are heavier though. Good tune. Don’t know much about The Hold Steady but they keep cropping up on the blogosphere so I should pay more attention.

    • The parent album that song comes from (Boys and Girls In America) is very good IMO – one of my favourites from this century. Southtown Girls, Hot Soft Light, First Night, Chips Ahoy! and Citrus are all great too.

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