Gloomy Tunes: The Smithereens, “House We Used To Live In”

Yesterday, Obit got the sad news that the Smithereens Pat DiNizio died at 62. Pat and the Smithereens were all around good guy, which comes through in their music, an ’80s power-pop updating of classic bar band rock: human-scaled, well-written, concise songs with multiple hooks, jangly guitars, and Pat’s nasal everyman tenor. With touches of both E Street and REM, and more than a touch of Elvis Costello, their songs evoke summer, with a recognize summer’s end just over the horizon.

The surviving members of the band: drummer Dennis Diken, guitarist Jimmy Babjak, and bassist Mike Mesaros released a statement:  Today we mourn the loss of our friend, brother and bandmate Pat DiNizio. Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll. Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn’t grow old together.
Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday.
Jimmy, Mike, Dennis

Here’s one of my favorite songs, “House We Used To Live In,” a driving riff over which the shock of seeing an old home fall into disrepair turns into a metaphor for a relationship; by the end, it pulls itself out of the nostalgic mists and becomes a call-and-response chant.

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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