Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Week 48: "Sick of Myself" by Matthew Sweet

In the 90s, alternative rocker Matthew Sweet released a series of albums featuring lots of electric guitar matched with his sensitive vocals. His 1991 album, Girlfriend, is indisputably his best album. Although I don’t listen to it often now, if I put it in my CD player I can sing along word-for-word with at least the first half of the album. However, Sweet’s best song is the first track on his 1995 album 100% Fun.

“Sick of Myself” is incredibly catchy, a perfect pop-rock song with lyrics that are full of self-loathing as a result of unrequited love. “You don’t know how you move me / deconstruct me, and consume me.” But the lyrics are not the thing. Although the guitar part is fairly simple, you’re left humming it all day. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on learning it thanks to this very odd YouTube video consisting of a guy teaching the guitar part to the song while sitting on what we have to presume is his toilet.

The stunning attention to detail is another thing that makes this song special. The four simple guitar scratches at the very beginning of the song and the fake-out ending are extra embellishments that put “Sick of Myself” over the top.

It may be the ultimate compliment to Matthew Sweet that other groups that have attempted to cover the song seem uninterested in adding their own interpretation. Instead, they try to mimic Matthew Sweet as closely as possible. The frattish, immature rock group Bowling for Soup can be heard covering the song here. It is a little bit louder and faster, but that's about it. Ben Gibbard, the front man for the band Death Cab for Cutie, has also offered his own acoustic cover version.

However, if you want to listen to the real thing, check out the original music video.