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Tune of the Week of the Year
Canadians Understand the Rinse Cycle
The following recommendation of the song Laundry Pile by Arkells is a contribution I made to ’s substack . It not only has essential local Chicago coverage, Zorn is a great musician and lover of music. I was pleased he asked me to contribute a “Tune of the Week” The entire Tune of the Week archive can be found here
Long before Bachman and Turner threw things into overdrive, Canadian rock has been providing a propulsive if surreptitious backbeat to the North American music scene. The pattern is that some bands, like Rush, the Guess Who and Nickelback are so embraced by Americans as to erase their Canadianness whereas others become big deals in Canada and stay huge deals mostly in Canada. As an aside, you’ll get no Nickelback hatred from me: They’re a fine straightforward rock band and too easy of a punchline, like Pia Zadora or fruitcakes were for Johnny Carson.
Arkells (no the, just Arkells) are a consistently compelling Hamilton, Ontario-formed band that has produced seven studio albums that range from solid to great. In Canada they sell out football stadiums (granted its Canadian Football, so the field is a few yards longer and closer to the capacity of the United Center than Soldier Field). They’ve won six Juno (Canadian Grammy) awards for Group of the Year, beating Arcade Fire in 2023 to garner the honor for the third consecutive time.
But accolades don’t communicate the quality of a song. For my Tune of the Week I’ve chosen a somewhat atypical new song called “Laundry Pile.”
Lead singer and songwriter Max Kerman focuses on the laundry pile sitting at the foot of a lover’s bed, one of the mundanities of a relationship that might seem irrelevant or even annoying, but in reality is the stuff of texture and memory.
Max tells his girlfriend he can picture her in the perfect vista we’ve all been conditioned by Instagram to associate with romance.
There’s a million places that I’d die to see you
Walking west on a beach around sunset
He communicates the depths of his affection through a classic troubles-melt-away couplet:
I wanna pull you close to me in the morning Tell me about your dreams before you forget When I’m with you the whole world gets so quiet I don’t need nothing else
But in the end, and in the chorus, he comes back to the quotidian. The laundry pile. We all have one. When we encounter an offer to help you tidy it up, value that as an act of love. After all, our lives are full of more laundry piles than of picturesque golden hours in locales we’ll never visit again.
Many of Laundry Pile’s lyrics speak of love as the absence of anxiety. She tells him to take "deep breaths" when a plane gets bumpy, he acknowledges her insecurity over how she looks in photos. It’s telling that the love offering is not giving a gift but an offer to declutter. What is love but a pleasant rush of Oxytocin to soothe the frenzied mind?
Taken literally that laundry pile is some socks, a T-shirt and sweatpants, which in a way couldn’t get less romantic. But acknowledging it, moving it, and putting a sheet on the bed can offer a deep feeling of the contentedness of being cared for, or maybe just a good lyric and song.
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