Hello all and welcome to a NEW Daily Blog series from me… TFG1Mike! The idea here is for me to write something, anything, once a day for 365 days. From January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023. In my 223rd entry, Well this is something I never thought I’d be diving into, but here we go! Join me TFG1Mike as I make my way through John Hiatt’s Recovery Tetralogy of albums! If you listen to PERFECTLY GOOD PODCAST with Jesse W. Jackson and Sylvan Groth, you’ll know that they refer to John Hiatt’s Recovery Trilogy of albums….A note as to why this is called his Tetralogy… Apparently that’s what four is. I always thought it was duo for two, trio or trilogy for three, and quadralogy for four. However when researching to write up this 4 part series, that’s what I found out!
I was 7 years old in 1987 when Bring The Family was released. I didn’t find out about John Hiatt until 1998 or 2002. I can’t remember, because the song Michael Keaton sings in 1998’s Jack Frost is NOT Have A Little Faith, but I always thought it was. I do not even remember ever hearing Have A Little Faith on the radio in the 80s at all. At that time I was still living in my home state of Massachusetts, and listening to WVBF Boston’s 105! Or 105.7 WVBF with the Loren & Wally Morning Show, and Delilah After Dark at night! And as I said already I barely if ever remember them playing it. and WVBF was a Top 40 station! I found Have A Little Faith in 2002 with the film A Walk To Remember as Mandy Moore did a cover of it. So that’s when I really found John Hiatt. Also in 2002 Disney’s The Rookie starring Dennis Quaid came out, and John’s song Slow Turning was in that film. <— more on that tomorrow!
HUGE THANKS TO JESSE JACKSON AND SYLVAN GROTH and their NEW John Hiatt From A To Z Podcast PERFECTLY GOOD PODCAST, because without listening to them, I most likely would not be writing up this 4 part series! So I’ve been listening to Bring The Family from cover to cover for the past three and half months, and I love the entire album, except there’s one song I don’t think belongs on it. My reasons for this are that the song I don’t think belongs ascends any album track list order. But first, lets look at Bring The Family as it was intended!
Track 1: Memphis In The Meantime – Great opening track! I love the twangy tune in this, and the story it tells is very catchy! I’ve never been to Memphis, but I hear it’s an experience unlike any other!
Track 2: Alone In The Dark – Good transition from the end of track one into track two here. What a song! Dark story, and I love how the music has a slight break between when John sings, “Now these tears I have to cry
…….. Alone in the dark baby, I’m all alone” That was a nice sorta fade out.
Track 3: Thing Called Love – This might be the strangest track on the album lyrically. I’m not sure what John was going for here, but it is a catchy tune. It surprised me after how slow track 2 was. You can check out the lyrics here, and let me know what you think. After re listening to this song multiple times I’m still confused, but I love the tune! I think the use of a single celled organism with amoebas is what is confusing the hell outta me. Maybe John’s talking about being more than just yourself when you are in love, but I’m grasping at straws there I think.
Track 4: Lipstick Sunset – I just love the way this track’s pace is. It is slower, and the instruments are fascinating as he sings the story of making a get away to a Lipstick Sunset. You can check the lyrics here. Right now as of this writing this is one of my Top 10 John Hiatt songs, at least out of the ones I’ve heard so far. The song is just mesmerizing. And it ends on such a soft note, and I was not expecting the classic piano of Have A Little Faith In Me to come in when it did. One of the reasons I say Track 5 is out of place on this album.
Track 5: Have A Little Faith – The song that most everyone knows from John Hiatt and I love it, but as I was listening through the album it seems out of place between Track 4 and 6. I have no idea where else you could put it, and it is such a great song… That as I’ll say later it seems to transcend any album. A few times listening to this song in the last two years it kinda makes me cry. That had never happened when I heard it before Karen and I were together. And (for those that don’t know) I lost Karen unexpectedly 2 years ago as of this November. The following lyrics really get to me:
“And when your back’s against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch, i will catch your fall baby
Just have a little faith in me!”
And the reason why that is…. it’s because Karen and I were all in, and we always caught each other when we fell (metaphorically) I will always love this song, as I think most people do.
Track 6: Thank You Girl – I get ZZ Top I Thank You vibes here just a bit, but at the same time it is it’s own story. And what a story it is! I love the twangy tune of the guitar, and the way the drums just feel like a backbeat to the guitars… That’s great! Around the 2:51 or 2:52 mark of the song a instrumental solo happens, and I just love that!! It makes the song even more of a listen for me. The story of the song is the singer thanking his girl, and it’s good, but for me this song is all about the tune.
Track 7: Tip Of My Tongue – Between Lipstick Sunset and this track, they might be my two favorites off the album. I’ve mentioned the twangy in these songs, and this one also has it, but it’s a slower feeling to me here. The song is about a love lost from a slip of the tongue…. When you say something you didn’t really mean, but you were so angry… that you just said it. It’s a song that says hey I screwed up, and now I face the consequences.
Track 8: Your Dad Did -Oh man another favorite! As I’m writing this, I’m listening through the album, and it does have an interesting flow…. This one I feel should have been track 10 not 8…. This feels like an awesome album closer! Great tune in this, it is so catchy. The story might just be my favorite off the entire album. I will be adding this one to my faves playlist on Spotify definitely!
Track 9: Stood Up – Probably my least favorite and least listened to from Bring The Family. Looking at the lyrics as I’m listening, it is a good story, and there is a good message, but it is just too slow of a song for me…. Especially following track 8….. it just doesn’t work for me with this album sequencing.
Track 10: Learning To Love You– The closing track is….good, but my ultimate take away from this being the closing track is that it flows well into the beginning track of the album. I love the song itself, such a great story song. I think that’s what a majority of Bring The Family is… a bunch of story songs out of story order…. Maybe? Learning To Love You also reminds me of Garth Brooks’s Learning To Live Again, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it as a song on it’s own.
In 1987 we were still all about radio play and single song listening at times right? Have A Little Faith In Me is an AMAZING song, I love it, always have, but I feel like it stands out too much between Lipstick Sunset and Thank You Girl. Have A Little Faith In Me is just one of those RARE songs that really can’t be contained in any album. I don’t even think at any other place on BTF could it be made better, it’s a sore thumb on the album. I do hate saying that, but it lies outside the story in my ears from listening to Bring The Family. Not trying to be negative here, just saying it is transcendent of any album. I am probably the only one who thinks about it this way, but imagine BTF without it:
Lipstick flows into Thank You Girl better. HALF just stands out too much. ya know? And as I’m coming to the end of this first part, my thought is every song is out of order on this album, I have no idea what the BEST story sequencing would be, but I do like 9 outta the 10 tracks separately away from being an album. Bring The Family has stories that really make you feel the way the characters in each song feel. That’s the way music should be.
We use the GCRN Universal Ratings System for everything here at The GCRN! <— That link over there describes what each rating definition is for us. And it has half points! I’ve sat here one last time listening to Bring The Family as a whole with my eyes closed and headphones on… to immerse myself in just the music, and after the last three and a half months, I’d give the album as a whole package the following rating:
There ya have it folks! Join me tomorrow August 12, 2023 when I’ll be diving into John Hiatt’s 1988 album Slow Turning!