Short Story in a Song — “Violins”


This is a new blog series. The point is to post some of my favorite songs and briefly look at the lyrics through the lens of short fiction.

Lagwagon has been a hugely influential band on the West Coast punk scene for almost three decades. “Violins” is probably one of the best known songs from their 1995 Fat Wreck Chords album Hoss. The album version is a high-energy onslaught, but there’s a plaintive quality to Joey Cape’s vocals that highlight the complicated feelings he’s singing about. The strength of those lyrics was further underscored in the beachy version of “Violins” that Cape recorded with Tony Sly for the Acoustic album in 2004.

“Violins” starts off with the narrator proclaiming himself “another fool” as he spins an angry tale of heartbreak and infatuation. He and his ex are worlds apart, but he can’t stop thinking about her even as he gets drunk and sleeps around. Through it all, he calls out to the object of his obsession and tries to win her back while falling into the same old self-destructive patterns. It’s a painfully familiar tale that should ring true for anybody who’s ever fallen in love—as The Buzzcocks once snarled—with somebody they shouldn’t have fallen in love with.

Read the full lyrics for Lagwagon’s “Violins” right HERE.

Check out my podcast conversation with Joey Cape about rock and reading:

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

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