I’ve been repeating “Subliminal” for the last hour or so, and I was thinking, “You know, it would’ve been really cool if the part at the end had been an actual subliminal message and not just an earlier part of the song backwards.”
But then I thought about it some more, and you know what? For The Johns to put in something that seems like it’s a secret subliminal message but actually isn’t anything different at all? That’s way more awesome, actually.
Happy 20th birthday, John Henry! (I want to make a “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” joke, but maybe that would be too obvious. Although I guess I sort of just did.)
Confession: I bought this album at a used record store in San Diego when I was 15 or so, along with cassettes of Lincoln and Flood. And…I hated it. Those tapes got plenty of play, but my immediate response to John Henry was “WHAT IS THIS SHIT?”
Then I put it away in my “albums I never listen to” box, and probably didn’t listen to it ever again until August 10, 2001, that fateful day I fell in love with John. And suddenly I saw the light. I remember cranking it way up on my stereo (it’s probably the best TMBG album to do that with) and just ROCKING THE FUCK OUT to it for a good chunk of the day.
As you may have gathered, “A Self Called Nowhere” is a very, very special song to me, but the album has plenty of other favourites as well. “No One Knows My Plan” is one of the absolute most fun songs John has ever written, and I have even taken to sometimes doing my own spazzy dancing around my apartment when I listen to it like, you know, him, which is so not something I am accustomed to doing. “Destination Moon” and “The End of the Tour” are also major repeat songs for me, and it has what I consider two of the most stellar examples of rockin’ Flansongs in “AKA Driver” and “Sleeping in the Flowers.”
So happy birthday, John Henry! Though you may no longer be my #1 album, you will always have a very special place in my heart.