Everclear has returned with a new set of tuneful pragmatism entitled Slow Motion Daydream. No new tale to tell here — Art Alexakis’ songs have always been immediately recognizable, momentarily hummable, and ultimately forgettable. However… On a recent road trip, after Q106.5’s kick-ass ZZ Top classic rock block made way for the Pro Tool’d synthesis of Nirvana and Candlebox (Nirvandleba?) that is Seether’s “Fine Again,” I hit scan, eventually landing in the midst of a yammering modern rock DJ’s back announcement. He was giving props out to a new song from Everclear called “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom.” I cataloged the information in my head (Everclear/new song/impossibly stupid name/I still hate “I Will Buy You A New Life”), and scanned until I caught the tail end of Kiss’ “Beth.” But a funny thing happened a few minutes later. I heard “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” on a different station. It was recognizable, and it was hummable. But ultimately, I wanted to forget because it hit too close to home.
I don’t drive a beige Volvo, though I think the Cross Country is a cool station wagon. I don’t play soccer, nor am I a mom. But I am a guy who will eventually get old. For the same reason that Johnny Cash’s harrowing cover of “Hurt” makes my skin get clammy, Everclear’s “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” tears a hole in my everyday existence. The song is a big “F you!” from Art Alexakis to every ex-stripper/party girl/rock chick from his high school that grew up to wear Land’s End and live in a subdivision. And it’s petty, likely recorded live inside Art’s ivory tower. It passes unfair judgment on the title character for her transformation. Nevertheless, at the song’s core is the notion that youthful rebellion will always trump success as an adult. And that’s as scary as the sobering reality of John Cash’s mortality, because if you value your prerogative to see rock and roll shows three times a week and get home when your neighbors get up, it’s painful to be told once again that it can’t last forever.
“Soccer Mom”’s video inter-cuts its titular character’s nouveau June Cleaver existence with her previous self’s subsistence. Soccer Mom dons a pink terry cloth robe and heads to her kitchen to start breakfast for the kids; Rock Chick wakes up in her clothes and lights a cigarette off the stove. Depending on your perspective, neither side is very appealing. But as the video progresses, images of late-night parties and pogo’ing crowds pass by, accompanied by Alexakis’ weirdly bittersweet lyric: “Where do all the porn stars go when the lights go down?” The line is a sullied-up simplification of the idea that youth fades and reality sets in. It’s like that kid with the five-foot mohawk who cuts in front of you at the deli. “Where does he work with hair like that?” you think. Or the tattoo artist on Discovery Channel. “Honestly, who gets a tattoo on their scalp of a vampire bat smoking a Kool?” Behind the incredulity, there’s grudging admiration and some longing for the limitless possibilities of youth. Alexakis never makes it clear whether his Soccer Mom is content. He doesn’t predict what she would feel — anger or envy? — if she saw Rock Chick keying a car down the block. The portrayal of Rock Chick’s life doesn’t glorify youth by any means, but at least she has the ability to change. Soccer Mom’s life is stuck in a cul de sac, and in the end, the only tether to her social rebellion is a shitty tattoo and late night blue movies. It’s a sour-pussed way to look at American life, and I dislike Everclear even more for making me write about it.
“Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” might make me squirm the most because of the way in which Alexakis frames his narrative. He spits first-person lyrics like “I used to be a bad girl/I got busted for possession of my wizard shaped bong/…but now I’m the Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” as if she has to defend the perfection of the present with her prurient past. I don’t want to reach a point where I’m defending myself to myself. Nor do I want to be the infamous Old Guy at the show, followed to the back of the club by catcalls of “My ride’s here.” But the day will come when I am that guy. And I only hope that when it does, I’ll hit scan on the radio and land on Seger. Come back, baby. Rock and roll never forgets.
Watch the video for “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom.”