The first song on the first album should be an announcement of arrival or a statement of intent. This is both. If you never paid attention in history class, here is Craig Finn’s version of the 20th century condensed into two lines per decade. Reaching the present day (as it was in 2000) the Hold Steady begin their life knowing how they are going to live it. “WE GOTTA START IT WITH A POSITIVE JAM!”
Unashamedly crunching guitars lead to Finn shouting his orders.
All the sniffling indie kids, HOLD STEADY
And all the clustered up clever kids, HOLD STEADY.
And after a verse and a chorus it ends, but we’ve been holding steady ever since. This was followed by five of the best albums of the decade, which we weren’t to know at the time. Now that we do, it’s even more triumphant.