3. Song No. 36: “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” Minus the Bear
Highly Refined Pirates, 2002
Last.fm tells me I have scrobbled this song 138 times, which seems outrageously low.
Every mixed CD and playlist I have made since my sophomore year of college regardless of the recipient has had this song on it because it is one of my all-time favorites. If I had to describe what happens when lyrics and instrumentalization come together in their most perfect union, I would defer to this song.
There are songs I have played so much that I eventually got sick of them. There are songs I love but are too inexorably intertwined with people or places or things I still can’t quite revisit without bracing for impact. And then there are songs like Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine,” DMB’s “41” or Superchunk’s “Florida’s on Fire” that I have loved whole-heartedly since high school and still have to stop whatever I’m doing to live inside them, from beginning to end, for a listen or five.
I first heard this song because I promised a friend I’d tune into her three-states-away radio show back when internet-broadcasts were new. I figured it’d be like listening to someone root through my music library but, instead, was treated to a solid hour of endless new treats.
But none matched the instant adoration and decades of staying power that “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” can boast. At first, I just loved how it sounded. But, like how the forest loses its flatness the longer you get to know it, the song gained dimension listen by enrapt listen.
It builds and explores like its lyrics. It is teeming with little moments that just make me pound my steering wheel or clap my hands with all the rapturous elation and intense emotion I usually reserve for puppies. And it just brings down a wall of sound as the intro gives way to the beating heart of the song across its five minutes and 24 seconds of being one of the best things you can do with your time.
Easily a decade and a half after that first encounter, I STILL catch myself saying “I LOVE this song!” It deserves to be among the few that I never stopped loving with an energy otherwise exclusive to my college self.