I’m gonna take a lover
Gonna take her back to Somerville
Don’t care if she’s pretty
As we leave Suck City
That last line is a reference to the experimental autobiography, Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, which, if you haven’t already, you should read, like, right now. (Coming soon to a theater near you!)
Written by Scituate native Nick Flynn about his absentee father’s jarring reentry into Nick’s life as a drunk and dissolute resident of the Pine Street Inn, where Nick works, Suck City (the title is one of the elder Flynn’s favorite sayings) is a hugely affecting book; written in prose and poetry and playlets, it fearlessly plumbs his conflicting feelings about the pull people and places can have on you, even when you don’t want them to.
It seems to have informed — if only in an oblique way — the lyrics to “Somerville,” the advance track from the Pernice Brothers’ new album Live a Little (Ashmont), due out this fall. Joe Pernice is a well-read man (and a fine writer in his own right), and the Brothers’ web site offers this song for free — with “a tip of the scally cap to Nick Flynn, who like Joe Pernice, grew up on the Irish Riviera.”
Live a Little reunites the band with producer Mike Deming, who hasn’t worked with them since their 1998 debut, Overcome by Happiness. That title was meant to be ironic, of course: a wistful sadness has always been a Joe Pernice songwriting stock-in-trade. And, if he’s seemed a little happier in recent years, “Somerville” has all the hallmarks we’ve come to expect by now: heart-on-sleeve lyrics that manage to be elliptically evocative at the same time, and lush arrangements that envelope Pernice’s breathy, melancholic voice.
That’s certainly not to say he’s without a sense of humor. Check out the “Bastards of Young”-style video for “Somerville" and see how good he is at riding a bike on a treadmill.
DOWNLOAD: The Pernice Brothers, “Somerville” (MP3)
WATCH: The Pernice Brothers, “Somerville” (Quicktime)