No One Leaves St. Louis

from by Derek Brink

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about

This song is very abstract. Stay with me.

I know that the tense shifts all over the place. Sometimes it's past tense, present tense, and even future tense within the same line. Don't try to make grammatical sense of it. It'll drive you nuts. And that's on purpose. I considered trying to clean it up, but I thought it helped the point of the song to leave it baffling.

I guess you'd call this a love song. Although I think the line "it doesn't count as a love song if nobody's in love by the chorus" is one of the most important phrases in understanding the lyrics. It IS a love song. But love is more complicated than a love song. Sometimes "I love you" isn't as simple as "I love you too." Sometimes it's "let's not fuck this up by dating, but I love you too." And when that's left hanging there, everything is fucked up. Time, location, emotions...they're all out the window.

I guess in this story, it's two people meeting up after not seeing each other for a while. The guy obviously has deep feelings for the girl, but it's not meant to be. And that kinda sucks. But at least they've got whatever they've got, and whatever that might be is walking down Delmar in U City looking for a beer. He'd do anything for her, but the best thing he can do for her is not press that. No matter how long it takes to put those feelings away.

Yes, it's semi-autobiographical. Of course it is.

When I wrote this I had a line in the song that I had to change because of the passage of time and events. The line "Worst case scenario, there's that club where we used to go" USED to be, "Worst case scenario, there's probably parking behind Cicero's." Cicero's was a bar/restaurant in St. Louis that I liked. It closed while I was working on this album, with very little fanfare. Nothing lasts forever.

I also added a line to the song. I was writing about St. Louis and my pet theory that even if they move, no one ever really gets out of there. People are always drawn back. Or they can move to Detroit or Minneapolis or someplace and live there for 30 years, but when anybody asks they say, "I'm from St. Louis." In the song, it's clear that the girl has left...but she hasn't. Something keeps her coming back--maybe it's him and maybe it isn't. Then while I was writing the album, Chuck Berry died. And I wrote "I guess everything changes. Even the best things. Nobody expects Chuck Berry to play here again." It seemed like a perfect metaphor. Chuck Berry's dead. But he'll always be part of this town. No one leaves St. Louis. The love never fully dies.

lyrics

When we met it was simple enough.
Your marriage was on the rocks.
I was just a guy who played the guitar.
Struck up a friendship.
You made it pretty clear that was it.
So I never tried to take things too far.

When I asked who your favorite bands are
you said Guided by Voices and Big Star.
I had the impression
you were trying to impress me.
‘Cause your car’s bumper said “Green Day”
and we saw Pearl Jam for your birthday.
And I’ve heard you sing
all the words to “Killing Me Softly.”

Everybody wants something.
Most of us just want to fit in.
Most of us want whatever’s worst for us.
We all want the fairy tale
with the happiest end.
But it doesn’t count as a love song
If nobody’s in love by the chorus.

It doesn’t matter where we meet up.
You pick the place, I’ll put the bells on.
My only real destination is your eyes.
U-City’s cool if you don’t mind walking.
Lots of bars to drink and talk in.
Plenty of shops to pass the time.
Worst case scenario
there’s that club where we used to go.
We could probably sit in there until closing.
The music’s not too loud
even when it’s a hard-rock crowd.
Remember last time?
We even heard some Leonard Cohen.

Everybody wants something.
Most of us just want to fit in.
I’d rather have a friend
than find a heart to steal.
I’m gonna love you forever
for whatever than means.
If it means I’m just hanging out,
then I guess that’s the deal.

I should probably be fine soon.
It’s been 20 years.
For at least 15, the issue’s been off the table.
Without you, I miss the late nights,
the coffee houses and car rides.
St. Louis feels big and empty
and I feel unstable.
Don’t you feel unstable?

No one leaves St. Louis.
You become a part of this town.
You can’t get out once it gets the hooks in.
But I guess everything changes;
even the best things.
Nobody expects Chuck Berry
to play here again.

Everybody wants something.

credits

from It Could Be Worse, released May 18, 2018

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Derek Brink St Louis, Missouri

Derek Brink is a musician from St. Louis, MO. He offers all of his music for the low cost of absolutely FREE. Just put $0.00 in the box after clicking "Buy." For those who are generous, you may pay any amount you wish with Derek's thanks--but you are not obligated to do so. Thanks, and come back for more, any time! ... more

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