12 O'Clock Track: Scrawl, "11:59 (It's January)" | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: Scrawl, "11:59 (It's January)"


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It's obvious why I chose this old song from Scrawl as today's 12 O'Clock Track, I hope. The band released it in January 1993 on a split seven-inch in the Simple Machines label's Working Holiday series; the other half was "Tin Foil Star" by Versus. I remember it dimly from my college-radio days in Houston in the early 90s.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, city of my birth, Scrawl formed in 1985 and since then has consisted of guitarist and singer Marcy Mays, bassist and singer Sue Harshe, and a series of drummers. They haven't released anything in more than a decade, as far as I can tell, but the band's ashes aren't completely cold—just this summer they played Lincoln Hall to help Shellac celebrate their 20th birthday. (Steve Albini recorded the 1993 Scrawl album Velvet Hammer, which came out about the same time as this single.)

The lyrics to "11:59 (It's January)" aren't exactly a party, shockingly. If you share my gift for being painfully single during the holidays, the lines "First day champagne / Old acquaintances are far apart / Tonight 'Auld Lang Syne' means / Leave before the kissing starts" will get you where you live.

The chorus goes "Last year went down the drain / They all do really, why complain / Drink a cup of kindness yet / And say good-bye to our regrets," but for me it's this verse that does the heavy lifting: "Was it a good year / Do I really need to know / 'Cause now it's behind me forever / It was a good year because it was such a bad year / That this year could only be better."

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