With that in mind, if you've been listening or paid attention to our first round coverage of "Joey" and "I Can't Fight It", you know that both of these songs are about the dissolution of romantic relationships. In "I Can't Fight It," it's over and we've "divvied up the friendships that we used to share," and while we can't fight it, we can still mourn the end, right? In "Joey," too, the relationship is over: she just doesn't know it yet. Or she can't admit it to herself. She's still sending signals his way: "But if it's love you're looking for / Then I can give a little more" but runs into the probable—nay, the inevitable: "And if you're somewhere drunk and / Passed out on the floor."
Lyrically both are relatively transparent, and, as far as we know, both songs are autobiographical or present as such. "Joey's" about alcohol in particular, and Mould offers no damning, particular lament. The real distinction between these sad songs is in the music: Johnette Napolitano's vocals and the way the bass drives "Joey" are pretty distinctive, and not obviously related to anything else playing on the radio or on MTV at the time, at least not that I remember. Mould's more distinctive perhaps when held in the distorted crunch of Sugar or Husker Dü, though here he's stripped remarkably bare. It's mostly just guitar (though the percussion shows up late with the synth-horns).
Let us not forget that "I Can't Fight It" appears only on No Alternative, the AIDS-relief compilation album that included many of the alternative rock gods and goddesses of the 1990s. This was the committee's Mould song choice from the get-go, but tracking it down was more difficult, as (you may have noticed) it's not streaming on any service. You also can't buy the track from any digital music service. The committee was reduced to trying to remember what happened to our CD—oh, we sold it, back when you could still get money for your CDs—and we had to face up to either ordering a used copy from Amazon or trying to luck into one at Bookman's, until the committee's friend Allison hooked us up with a copy from her husband's collection down somewhere in storage crates. When we were relating this story to another friend Paul, he said, oh, do you need it? I have it right over here. And then we remembered that at one point (1993) everyone we knew seemed to have the album. And you know what? A lot of people still do have it. That says something for what it meant—means—what all of this means, we suppose—to us.
Having said that, the Committee is leaning toward Concrete Blonde on this one largely because "Joey" seems to us a whole lot more distinctive musically, especially when compared to what else is in the bracket. We can't see "I Can't Fight It" fighting off Concrete Blonde here, much less a possible matchup down the line with Joy Division, say, or Elliott Smith. But Napolitano's crew we can see just maybe cutting down the nets at the end of this thing.
(7) Bob Mould, "I Can't Fight It"
(2) Concrete Blonde, "Joey"
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