Images by YUNGBLUD
When Roger Daltrey pronounced, “Hope I die before I get old,” followed by Deborah Harry’s promise to, “Die young, stay pretty,” they sounded for everything like they really meant it. But for almost anyone who’s not actually Sid Vicious, carrying on for as long as possible does really seem to be the best strategy.
Now Jesse Jo Stark is picking right up where they left off, with her new and rather unambiguously titled track, “Die Young.” The third single from her upcoming debut album, it actually contains one of the best lyrics ever: “The older I get, the more I wanna die young.” Still, it is a very 29-years-old sort of thing to say, isn’t it?
But her mastery of sonic dramatics makes it all come off as, well, deadly earnest. Indeed, eerily tremolo’d / echo drenched guitars, opulently melancholy strings, and death march drumbeats give the proceedings a chilling air of mournfulness, perhaps even verging on the funereal.
It’s quite possibly what might have resulted if Morrissey and Nick Cave had collaborated in their more anguished youth. Yet Ms. Stark (read the recent BlackBook interview with her) ultimately points out the more metaphorical intentions of her words.
(Her grammatical stylization) “i usually don’t like to explain my songs,” she offers. “but with the heaviness and discomfort in the world, i want to be clear. die young is about all of the personal deaths and rebirths i’ve been through in my life. love and loss. times when i’ve felt like an alien and had to fly away. or accept that i am an alien sometimes. this song is me looking back and realizing that these times made me who i am. i am grateful for every moment i breathe in and i fuck with the future.”
Which, really, is about all one can be and do right now.