“A Daisy Through Concrete” by Eels

149. Song No. 2,281: “Daisy Through Concrete,” Eels
Daisies of the Galaxy, 2000

It was a rarity when any band I loved in high school made it into the pages of mainstream entertainment magazines. I think it was a Rolling Stone review of Daisies of the Galaxy that described this album as being way more optimistic than the preceding Electro-Shock Blues, pointing to songs like this one as evidence. Like, it is absolutely made to be superimposed over a happy-go-lucky stroll along life’s path with both eyes trained on the good stuff.

Mark Oliver Everett, also lovingly called E if you’re into the whole brevity thing, is the beating heart of Eels and a goddamn national treasure. I don’t think you have to be familiar with his music to appreciate the emotional magnitude of his memoir; he’s also the son of quantum physicist Hugh Everett III and observed the 50th anniversary of his late father’s controversial parallel-universe theory with a similarly incredible documentary. (I heartily recommend both.)

This is all relevant because I think it IS important to know just what a gut-wrenching background Everett comes from, and how it accounts for the duality of creating an album as wounded and somber but ultimately hopeful as Electro-Shock Blues and then turn around and make something much, much lighter, both with equal authenticity and emotional intensity. The guy had the wreckage and gore of a plane crash rain down on the home of his youth; at 19, he found his father dead on the couch; he lost the rest of his family in rapid succession, which is the foundation of Electro-Shock Blues.

That necessary catharsis gave way to the sunnier survivor’s celebration that is Daisies of the Galaxy. It has its quieter, contemplative moments, but it’s mostly here to look on the bright side. Plus, you’ve got a track called “I Like Birds.”

The album opening “Grace Kelly Blues” sets the tone musically, for sure. “A Daisy Through Concrete” is, I think, where the album’s central thesis lives: Being blindly blithe in the face of life’s peaks and valleys misses the point completely, as does wallowing in those valleys’ inevitable lows; the real challenge is looking up even when the world knocks you down, but that’s where the real reward is, too.