Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's a commitment that's made between the two people in Fran Healy's song "Anything." It's one of undying and unwavering respect and love, something that still feels a little made up and it's probably the thing that always adds that dot dot dot to the end of any statement that someone who's fallen in love, or who has found the one says. Those smitten and those who have even made the moves in their relationships to get them to those more "permanent" positions need time to be as committed as those in the songs that Healy writes seem to be from the outset. The Scot and lead singer of Travis - a band whose very existence certainly must be one of the greatest reasons for the existence of a band like Coldplay - has never been a writer who has dealt much with those abstract or subjective states of love, but more those of the substantial and concrete semblances. We as a species are certainly quick and often right to gripe about the mistreatment of such terms as enduring and forever, or of soul mates and such things. We see the gross mishandling of commitment and of marriage and there's enough evidence out there that most people are wrong for one another and that there are far more reasons to be pessimistic about what you're getting into than to be optimistic and open to another failure.
Healy writes of the kinds of sensations that you absolutely strive for and think might not be out there. They seem surreal and almost impossible, but he asks for them. He doesn't want much in his songs and he seems to get it. The last line there is supposed to read as a really, really good thing. It's complete fulfillment. When I first heard Healy, it was with Travis' debut full-length, "Good Feeling," a classic modern record if you're looking for one, and there were songs about only wanting to rock and musings about good days to die and all of the sentiments were pure and easy, able to be reached. The follow-up came with the single, "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" a song with which we know exactly what's being told, or what it's asking us, before ever having to listen to it. It was a simple clarion call out to the heartless sky, imploring it for mercy, for it to just let up once in a while and give the gloomy and dumpy days to someone else just for a change of pace. Healy sings on "Wreckorder" about a wedding that takes place at a Vegas bar, on a dance floor. There are cans tied behind the car and images of tossing quarters in a slot machine as the car leaves down with the happy couple and though there's even more belief suspended in thinking that such a union could last, when he sings it, we're there. We're with him and we've purchased -- for the happy and unlikely couple -- an expensive gift.
On "As It Comes," a song that Healy got THEE Paul McCartney to play on for the record, we meet another couple that's committed to one another, despite themselves. One hears from the other that they could look thinner, aka that they could stand to lose a few pounds, all as they're spending an agreeable lunch break in the park, feeding bread crumbs or corn to the ducks. Now, who says that? But the character taking the abuse stands up for himself and demands a retraction. We're not sure what happens next, but if this were a stage production, the house lights would fade and we'd then see him next in the center of the stage, with one bright spotlight on him as he recited a monologue where he told us that he was "loving each day as it comes." This is just another case of someone being in it for the long haul and there's something so nice about that.