The Subdudes, “Poor Man’s Paradise” (2007): One Track Of The Year

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With all the All Star albums of 2007 out of the way, there’s just one more piece of year-end business to take care of: my favorite song of the year. Like the top CD of the year, this one didn’t require much agonizing. It’s a song that puts me in a great mood every time I listen to it, and it has a great message to go with a great sound. That song is “Poor Man’s Paradise” by the subdudes.

Before I delve into the song itself, allow me to explain the missing capitalization. You see, I’ve recently learned that the band refers to itself without those big letters, much like, say, “k.d. lang.” I don’t know for sure why they do, but it fits in nicely with the down-home, humble way they present their music.

Not surprisingly, the song of the year is that way, too.

“Poor Man’s Paradise,” which was written by the entire five piece band, quickly got me on it’s bandwagon when reviewing the subdudes’ outstanding 2007 release Street Symphony. It was actually released as a single ahead of the album earlier in the summer.

Back then when I reviewed Street Symphony, I said this about the song:

“Poor Man’s Paradise” is the advance single from the CD and it’s a real gem of a song. It’s straightforward lyrics are character sketches into people who find refuge in the simple pleasures of life after their lives were torn part by Katrina. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more uplifting song derived from that tragedy and it’s sure to be a staple in the Subdudes’ live rotations for many years to come.

(Tommy) Malone’s sweetly soulful lead vocal supplemented by street corner harmonies. And then to top things off, they threw in a show stopping, hand-clapping chant guaranteed to get the crowd stoked:

One-and-two-and-three-and-four,
Turn the music up some more,
Two-and-three-and-four-and-five
Ain’t it good to be alive
Three-and-four-and-five-and-six
This is how we get our kicks
Four-and-five-and-six-and-seven
All God’s children go to heaven
(in a poor man’s paradise…)

To me, “Poor Man’s Paradise” has three simple but powerful messages:

1. The triumph of the human spirit over even the violent wrath of Mother Nature,

2. taking enjoyment from the simple pleasures of life, and

3. the healing power of music.

The simple and carefree melody is a perfect match for the lyrics and when you throw in some of the most pleasing doo-wop harmonies south and west of the Bronx, you’ve got yourself a foot stomping anthem for hope and happiness with a wide appeal.

Anyone who’s read this space long enough knows I can get into some pretty cerebral stuff. But the primary aim of music is still to entertain and revive your soul. “Poor Man’s Paradise” does just that, and does it damned well.

And that concludes my musical musings until next year. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and thanks for reading.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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