Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
tramps like us, baby, we were born to die
The weight of 2019 is bearing down on us. As the final stop in a 10 year waiting period – which started waaay back when the staff punctuated their 2000-2009 list with a Jane Doe victory – there’s an awful lot to think about this year. A lot of 2019 will be spent reflecting, looking back on the last 3,650 days of music and beginning the impossible task of identifying what stood out as the very best. Frankly, it’s a fool’s errand to even try. That of course, is where I come in. Even though I will continue to evaluate my top 100 albums separately – and eventually submit that list when it comes time to vote – this particular blog series will aim to spotlight my favorite songs. That’s right, a whole decade of sowingcore at your fingertips. I’m excited too. For this series, I will incrementally add what I deem to be classic/essential songs to my spotify playlist [below] until there’s a list of only my very favorite songs from 2010-2019. Please note that these installments are not ranked, but rather a compilation.
This first entry might come as a slight surprise. Many associate “The Battle of Hampton Roads” with the very best that Titus Andronicus’ 2010 landmark record The Monitor has to offer, but I’ve always been partial to “A More Perfect Union.” There’s a tremendous sense of political urgency that emanates from it, even though it’s not exactly patriotic. Whereas in 1838 Abraham Lincoln could wax poetic about a nation filled with promise (“If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher…as a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide”), Titus Andronicus find themselves on the cynical 2010 side of the coin. There’s a moment on “A More Perfect Union” when front man Patrick Stickles states “None of us shall be saved, every man will be a slave…for John Brown’s body lies a’mouldring in the grave”, and it perfectly summarizes the overarching sentiment of Americans in this day and age. The potential that once gave the United States its luster has long been squandered – and as a nation of free men, we authorized our own demise. It’s only fitting, then, that the song concludes with satirical chants of “rally around the flag” and “glory, glory, hallelujah” – each repetition drained of more emotion than the one prior to it. Atop pounding drum lines and rollicking, rebellious-sounding electric riffs, it is an adrenaline-pumping anthem that defines what The Monitor is all about – raw emotion, directed at anything and everything in its path.
Moreover, it’s the ideal song to kick off this decade playlist.