Perfect Songs – “Never Meant” by American Football

In our first installment I talked about bands versus singer-songwriters. Here’s what a band brings to the table that I’ve rarely heard a singer-songwriter accomplish: every part of the song represents a uniquely creative musical idea. When I heard this drum part, I immediately wanted to sit down and learn it. Then I wanted to learn the intertwined guitar parts, which are in the band’s own idiosyncratic tuning. And then the bassline. And the vocals. Everything about this song is f*cking magical.

In particular I enjoy the parts of the song where the lyrics are stretched so far apart in time that they’re hard to parse as a full sentence and are processed primarily as just chunks of words. At the end they add up to the very conversational, almost stammering statement, “Not to be, overly dramatic, I just think it’s best. Because you can’t miss what you forget. So let’s just pretend everything and anything between you and me was never meant.”

Alas, Chicago’s finest one-album wonder, America Football, is long gone. Its chief songwriter, Mike Kinsella makes his living as indie rock singer-songwriter Owen. More on him in another installment. The whole record is full of creatively composed arrangements and beautifully sad lyrics. I’ve read that they were mainly a studio project and not really a band, but man, when the tunes are this good, why make something this good only once?

For the musicians, the song is a great puzzle to learn, for the non-musicians it’s a warmly sad breakup song. In my case, given the person who introduced me to the song and the relationship we had, it’s both.

>> Download Never Meant or the album
American Football from