Lyric of the Week: (The) TOWN FULL OF SELF-DESCRIBED SAINTS
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
The prophets have fallen between the boardwalk cracks
Their voices still ooze out but no one wants to hear
The dreamers have all beaten it down the dusty tracks
No need to stick around when their ideas are met with jeers
The poets have been eclipsed by their own egos
Spewing their words of venom and hate
The cynics make it their business to tear down heroes
So they can cover up their own inadequate state.
And while the journalists are trying to get things flying
to replace all the dying with hope
The editor screams his lungs out as the laundry is hung out
and the council acts strung out on dope.
The visionaries have lost their gift of vision
Clouded by salt air and ocean mist
The seekers have all become targets for derision
Victims of a generation all armed and pissed
The pundits speak their own arcane language
Deluding themselves the public will dig their hipness
The promoters do their best to take maximum advantage
And the performers buy into it—they can’t see it’s all a big sickness.
The kids burst onto the scene with their heads full of dreams
To be the next big thing from this place
But if they don’t conform to the latest trends and norms
They find themselves scorned and disgraced.
Second-hand smoke and third-rate bars
Snotty punk attitudes and fuzzy guitars
I’ve been through that grind, I’ll show you my scars
There’s nothing romantic or quaint.
A curse on an establishment that forces musicians
To morph from creatives into politicians
The whole thing arouses nothing but suspicion
In this town full of self-described saints.
The tramps, they’ve all climbed the social ladder
Carving their niche in a murky world of outtakes and boots
Tickets and drop lines and how many shows, it’s all chatter
And somehow the message in the music is rendered moot
And me, I just sit there and listen, and shake my head in wonder
Is this the sum total of everything I cared about
These roads have long since been silenced of their thunder
And if this is all that’s left, then I’ll deal without.
Well I’m taking myself out of this toxic scene
It’s a bane to inspiration, a dangerous machine
Whatever looks positive is just a smokescreen
A safe, nurturing haven, it ain’t.
But long after the bandwagoners have left for their homes
And long after the sun has bleached dry the bones
I’ll still be picking up the intrinsic sounds and tones
Even if the signals are faint.
‘Cause my blood runs with this place’s spirit
I know where to listen and how I can hear it
And all these fools could try but they could never hope to come near it
In this town full of self-described saints.
©2007 The Hesh Inc.
In this song, track 8 of the album Soul In Exile 2: Jersey Shore Baby, I tear the mask off the niceties and make plain the feelings of disillusionment that set in once realizing that the scene I entered when moving down to the Shore was far from the ideal paradise I had envisioned.
John Pfeiffer, in his review of the album for The Aquarian Weekly, described it best: "The most poignant tune on the disc is '(The) Town Full Of Self Described Saints,' a snarling song featuring Kenny Sorenson's harp work and where Heshy kicks over the reality rock so many have hidden under with the line: 'The tramps, they've all climbed the social ladder, carving their niche in a murky world of outtakes and boots, tickets and drop lines and how many shows, it's all chatter, and somehow the message in the music is rendered moot.' And as I said in the beginning of this article, love/hate always lets you come back, but sooner or later you have to leave or descend into its midst. Its hold on you is ferocious, and you can hear it in the line, 'I'm taking myself out of this toxic scene, it's a bane to inspiration, a dangerous machine.'"
The music is a bit of a curiosity. Generally it has the vibe of the J. Geils Band at its most progressive (think "Monkey Island" or "Chimes"), but if you sang A Taste of Honey's 1978 hit "Boogie Oogie Oogie" along with the verses, you wouldn't be so far from the source.
Apart from Shore-area blues harp legend Sorensen, kudos must be given to guitarist Trina Scordo, late of the 2000s-era band Steel Pier Sinners, for giving the song its 'snarl' with her amped-up Telecaster. She and I may have fallen out over political differences since then but she was there when it counted.
... And as for who these actual "saints" are ... "any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental" ... and let's leave it at that.