Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Under the Influence of Springsteen: Third Eye Blind

If you wanna see me
You know I'm easily found
Just climb the stairs where we used to live
Wrap your fist 'round my heart
Yeah, you know how it pound, pound, pound
- “Everything is Easy”, Third Eye Blind

Okay, so this one is a bit if a stretch. In fact, I didn't even notice it myself. The AbsolutePunk review had to alert me to this slight “Darkness on the Edge of Town” reference. But it's an excuse to talk about one of my other favorite bands, Third Eye Blind.

Third Eye Blind’s fifth album Dopamine was just released last month, nearly 20 years after their debut album. So they certainly don’t share Bruce’s prolific level of output. But there are two distinct similarities: their sense of location and their propensity to tell sad stories set to a snappy beat.

In terms of location, their hometown of San Francisco penetrates many of their songs, even when it’s about its absence and the feeling of being an outsider in locations like New York City ("Motorcycle Drive By"), Los Angeles ("Forget Myself"), or London ("London").

Third Eye Blind has gone through several band member rotations and it’s clear that Stephan Jenkins is the heart and soul of the band while the rest are “salaried employees” (to quote Max Weinberg talking about The E Street Band).

Lyrical complexity is one of Third Eye Blind’s strongest traits (the music speaks for itself and Jenkins has stated its importance to him in interviews). Like Springsteen, this complexity can lead to frequently misunderstood songs. But Third Eye Blind’s music gets misconstrued in a way different to Springsteen’s. Bruce’s stories are usually straightforward with clear characters that have clear - if misguided - motivations. Jenkins' lyrics on the other hand often need a Lit major and/or a pervert to decode them. For example: “But the light, it falls on my castle walls; And my basketballs pelt me with bricks in my dreams” – An Ode to Maybe

What these two bands have most in common though is that they so effectively set downbeat stories to upbeat tempos. Songs like “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Blinded,” and now “Everything is Easy” are dirtier, angst-ridden variations of the classic Springsteen "happy/sad" song we dance our hearts out to like “I’m Goin’ Down,” “Livin’ in the Future,” or “Bobby Jean.”

What do you think? Is Third Eye Blind truly under the influence of Springsteen? Or are these passing coincidences?

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