Monday Music: ‘The Hook’ (Blues Traveler)


I cannot claim to be a huge Blues Traveler fan, but I did own the “4” album back in the day that included their most popular song ‘Run Around’ (thanks to my cousin Garett who got it for me for Christmas I think). There were two songs on the album that I actually liked better than their song on the radio: ‘The Mountains win again’ and ‘The Hook.’ The latter song is a well-written track about so much of what is wrong with art and music these days. The basic idea is that a song or painting or book or movie can essentially say nothing as long as ‘the hook’ is strong enough to keep people interested. The lyrics involve a good bit of sarcasm and some great lines. For example, in the second verse, John Popper (an amazing harmonica player) sings:

“There is something amiss, I am being insincere. In fact don’t mean any of this, still my confession draws you near.”

He goes on in that verse to make a clever reference to Peter Pan that has no point, which proves his point (I know, a little hard to explain, but great writing.)

Later he sings/raps in the bridge:

“It could be financial suicide but I got to much pride inside to hide or slide I’ll do as I decide and let it ride until I’ve died and only then will I abide this tide of catchy little tunes and hip three minute ditties…”

I used to have the whole thing memorized, which is a bit embarrasing I know, but I love what he is communicating here. He concludes the bridge with these words:

“When I’m feeling stuck and need a buck I won’t rely on luck because the hook brings you back.”

It is an honest confession of the struggle to be successful and make good art without selling out. To some degree it is a struggle that many artists have faced. I appreciate such a well-written song about that topic, plus the harmonica solo is pretty cool as well. And you know, it has a good hook! You can listen to it here with the lyrics (although I think some of them may be wrong):

The Hook (with lyrics)

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