3607. “Sequestered in Memphis” by The Hold Steady

Officialish Video:

I have lot to say about the delightful “Sequestered in Memphis.” I want to begin my discussing Franz Nicolay.

Nicolay was the keyboardist and accordionist for The Hold Steady during this period. Part of what I’ve enjoyed about The Hold Steady tracks that I’ve been listening to has been his work. He wasn’t an official member, to my knowledge, until 2005 and he left the band after 2010 to pursue solo work. Anyhow, I’ll make references to him a couple of times while discussing Stay Positive, so I figured I’d introduce him now.

The second think I want to mention is that most people commenting at SongMeanings don’t quite understand the legal system. I’m not expert, but the dude who is the narrator of this song is subpoenaed and then interviewed – not arrested and then interrogated. Ergo, he’s a potential witness to a crime, not the one who committed the crime. Presumably the woman with whom he had a fateful one night stand was a more major figure in the crime. The Hold Steady Wiki states that there is a murder investigation that flows through the album, so I’ll be looking for that as I write about the record.

Anyhow, the song itself has this great piano line by Nicolay, a fantastic chorus (“by daylight she looked desperate – that’s all right, I was desperate too”) and the repeated “I was just there on business” at the end pushes it to an almost hilarious place. This poor schmuck hooks up with the wrong woman and ends up involved in a criminal investigation. Its kind of a nightmare, but his attitude to the proceedings are so resigned and frustrated that it pushes the tale into comedy.

One of the highlights of this album.


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