"Open Up My Eager Eyes": The Killers

My first apartment, the one I moved into in fall of 2009 (oh strange year), spent several months in bleak sparsity. I guess when your life is complicated you can't even unpack your heart in your own space. But eventually, and with a giant push from my amazing mom, it came to look, feel, and be livable. I couldn't paint them (though I know from creepy peering from the sidewalk as I pass by that tenants since me, did) but the walls did get a kiss of me as I resurfaced.

Of course there were the albums, one Flogging Molly and two Bowie, on the south wall of the living room, and I think it was Bowie too, in poster form, on the wall opposite ("It's 1986 David Bowie from the movie Labyrinth, Brett.") The east wall was mostly window, but the west wall, right next to the niche where my stereo sat, I put up The Killers

No, there is no significance to the fact that it was the west wall. I'm just giving you a little sense of perspective. :) I bought it at their show at Comerica Theater (FKA The Dodge) in Phoenix in October 2009, along with a gray (how original!) tour shirt that I still wear on the regular. A word about the show: the crowd sucked, the band was all swagger and effort, and I sang my heart out.

I once read a critic's highly memorable quip that The Killers are not nearly as important a band as they think they are, and that is what makes them so lovable.It's true, nobody does bombast like The Killers. Remember that boy-band smack-talk battle they had with The Bravery back in 2005? Barely one album out and they thought they were legitimate enough to have a Vs., like Rolling Stones Vs. Beatles or Judas Priest Vs. Iron Maiden or any other contemporaries with overzealous fanbases. The magazines laughed, and so did I... (incidentally, I think The Killers unquestionably came off conqueror). But I like the Killers, a lot. Even if they have a track that made last week's reflection on filler songs.

I passed on the solo project by Brandon Flowers, which was hailed as "Sam's Town Part II: This Time Without the Hits" by another critic- dang, they love to rag on these guys. Gotta be tough to be The Killers, that's for sure. And I didn't ever buy into 2007's Sawdust, a compilation of B-sides and off-cuts. But I do own, one way or another, all the remaining releases. High school would simply have not been the same without that debut album, Hot Fuss on everyone's minds. Sam's Town never grabbed me til later, but my most-played album of the bizarre winter of 2008 was easily Day & Age. And yes, even though it sounds like Killers-do-Springsteen-in-Las-Vegas, I enjoy Battle Born. In fact, it's how much I am enjoying listening to Battle Born the last few days that makes me post tonight on The Killers, when I have accolades for new Hall of Fame members RUSH, and a truly delightful "guest post" on Led Zeppelin. 

I don't think I know of any other bands that are so exquisitely fun to sing along to in the car, for one thing. Brandon Flowers' voice sometimes bawls and sometimes trembles, and yet it is a pretty voice, and I LOVE singing along. I surprise myself by knowing all the words to all the songs. Windows up or windows down, it's me and The Killers, live for one rush hour only. 

But I think in the end, I love them because we've gone through a lot together. We both take ourselves too seriously, both like to contemplate dark subjects (sometimes things outside of our own experiences), both love David Bowie and the Smiths and other New Wave pioneers. (And, at least in the case of Brandon Flowers, we're both Mormon! See Exhibit A.) Since their emergence I have in some respects carried them with me through everything I've done and seen. The "keep on going, you are awesome" sort of songs critics disdain as self-indulgence, I have always taken to heart as a pep-talk, from the Killers to me.

It's breaking my heart that I didn't realize they were going to be in Tucson so soon (May 4). I could have made arrangements for that, if I'd known even a month ago. Such tragedy! Well, I am hopeful that they will outlast their internal conflicts long enough to make one more lap of the US. I'll be there next time. 

And I do not know why I pay so much attention to what the press says about The Killers. Of course in the end it's your ears that form your opinion, no matter what critics have to say, and that is true on many fronts. I would like to submit, though, something that a cranky old blogger that I follow has been known to reiterate from time to time: when they heckle and criticize and talk... you know you've made it. Congratulations, guys. You made it. ^_^

This playlist is sort of unique. It is made of both favorites and significant songs. Not all of these selections are "the best" Killers tracks, but the ones that aren't are still the ones that call to me because they mean the most, for whatever reason. Here you go: My Eager Eyes: The Killers 

For Your Playlist: Side A
1. "Mr. Brightside" from Hot Fuss
2. "Sam's Town" from Sam's Town
3. "This Is Your Life" from Day & Age
4. "Miss Atomic Bomb" from Battle Born

For Your Playlist: Side B
1. "A Dustland Fairytale" from Day & Age
2. "Bones" from Sam's Town
3. "The Rising Tide" from Battle Born
4. "On Top" from Hot Fuss

Bonus tracks: "Tranquilize" (featuring Lou Reed) from Sawdust, & "Crossfire" from Flamingo by Brandon Flowers. In keeping with my penchant for songs that mention heaven, hell, devils, angels, etc., "Crossfire" filled me with joy the first time I heard it, which was on the way back from the gym late one night, after stopping on a bench to look for a fresh soundtrack for the walk home.

And if you have time for just a little more Killers, (which might make you a bona fide Victim) I suggest listening to this fabulous cover of an excellent Bright Eyes song, and watching the video that started it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGdGFtwCNBE

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