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About the Song - "Stole a Car"
From Branches Breaking from the Weight
First up is “Stole a Car,” which happens to be track nine out of ten.
Putting a track in the nine spot of a ten-song album does not instill the listener with confidence on the quality of the song compared to, say, the first few tracks. I knew this as I worked on the album sequence, but I didn’t quite see where else “Stole a Car” fit. When I sent the draft of the sequence to Bret and Kevin, Bret was like, “Um, ‘Stole a Car’ is ninth?” He was thinking more like track two.
We went back and forth about it. In short, I wasn’t ready to upend everything else in the sequence to make room for “Stole a Car” elsewhere. I knew it had the potential to stand out from the other tracks. If there’s a “Johnny Marr” on this album, it’s “Stole a Car,” but I also felt just a bit more strongly about some of the other songs. To break the standoff, I promised Bret that I would start this series with “Stole a Car,” so that’s what I’m doing.
Have you ever had a friend confess something to you? That’s where the narrative line of “Stole a Car” comes from.
My friend confessed to me that once, at a concert, in the parking lot, waiting for his friends to get tired and drive him home, he looked for a car with an unlocked door. He wanted to use the car’s lighter to light his cigarette, so he went one-by-one in the lot looking for someone who’d forgotten to lock their car. This was before every car had an alarm.
My friend eventually found a handle that gave, and he sat down in the driver’s seat, found the lighter, pushed it in, lit up, and smoked. I can imagine him sucking on his cigarette, looking this way and that, hoping the car’s owner didn’t decide to leave the concert early and find him out.
For no reason, my friend turned the car’s ignition, and wouldn’t you know it, the car started. No explanation. The car just started and was puttering underneath him.
So, what did he do?
He was tired, and his friends were nowhere in sight, so he drove the car home. He just drove the now stolen car from the concert back to his neighborhood. He parked the car a few blocks away from his place, walked the rest of the way home, and in a few weeks, the car disappeared.
When telling me this story, my friend grimaced. He felt guilty about it. He felt bad for the owner. It would suck to walk out of a concert, search for your car, never to find it, and have to call the cops.
Still, my friend also seemed to realize that it was a pretty funny story, and he couldn’t help but pass it on to me. I’m glad he did. I got a song out of it.