My Favorite Cracker Album: Forever – By Jim Passaro, Jr.
Recently re-listening to the Forever album during a particularly busy and stressful period at work, I was immediately reminded why I love this album. The songs’ melodies and lyrics are strangely reassuring and cryptically comforting. Taken together, the songs seem to be saying: “It’s OK to be different. It’s OK if things are strange. And it’s OK to tell that poisonous person in your life to take his/her sorry ass back to Florida.”
I remember listening to his album back in 2002 for the first time and feeling like part of some exclusive club. I “got” these songs and they comforted me during a time in my life when the healing power of music was desperately needed. This was around the time that I first realized there was a whole community of fellow Cracker (and Camper) fans out there, just a few clicks away. The posts on the Cracker-related Yahoo! groups were daily reading and I scoured eBay for rare Cracker songs until I was able to put together the Strangely Compelling compilation, featuring all the bands’ B-sides and rarities to date. This is around the time I also started actively trading CD copies of live shows with fellow Cracker fans.
I had always been a Cracker fan, but this wonderful album, this invitation to join the freaks and geeks and weirdos, is what made me a Cracker Fan.
All this – the live show trading, the interaction with other fans from around the world – was going on as Forever played in the background. The songwriting of David Lowery and Johnny Hickman weaves together this group of songs with a sort of bemused, defiant attitude with the common theme being – sure the situation is strange and absurd right now, but soon, one fine day, we’re all going to shine. In the meantime, it’s fine to be someone else or tell off the person bringing you down. I don’t know what Lowery and Hickman were going through in their lives as these songs were being written, but it definitely seemed as if we were on the same wavelength each time I listened to this album.
From the strange visuals of monkeys guarding either the “Brides of Neptune” or an unobtainable beauty, to the story of the blue ladies on their bikes, this album is the story of songwriters (and probably a band) going through their share of weird life changes and trying to make sense of it all. And at the end of the album, we’re “treated” to the closest Cracker will ever come to recording a rap song with their name-checking, inside joke cracking “What You’re Missing.”
This final song ties it all together perfectly. Life is strange and we’re strange, but it’s going to be fine and don’t take it all so seriously. Welcome to the club and enjoy the ride.
Key Tracks: Honestly all of them, but if I had to pick a few – “Shine” “Don’t Bring Us Down” “Miss Santa Cruz County” “One Fine Day” “What You’re Missing”