Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms

In 1992 this song was everywhere. A ubiquitous smash hit across all platforms. Whether you saw it as alt.lite cash in on the Grunge boom, a country rock slice of MOR, something to file alongside the R.E.M and The Jayhawks or just an outstanding single of extreme hummabilty it’s hard to deny Hey Jealousy. It drove the success of the tracks parent album New Miserable Experience. NME (I wonder if that acronym is intentional) gave fourth several other hit singles but you could tell even then they were riding Hey Jealousy’s coattails. Not that Found Out About You, Mrs Rita and Until I fall Away are bad songs. They’re pretty damned decent in my opinion. New Miserable Experience is a good album that bears re-listening almost 30 years later (with an absolutely garbage sleeve though, I mean it is a stinker). They’re just not the mercurial Hey Jealousy. What is it that just clicks on some tracks?

I’ve mentioned on here before the flat I shared with the guys at college. There was one guy in that group who got obsessed with the perfection of Hey Jealousy. He approached it like a science project. What made this song so likable and yet remarkably ordinary? It’s safe to say it doesn’t ruffle any feathers. Your parents wouldn’t be up in arms telling you to “turn that rubbish down” if it were playing. There’s the down at heel lyrics about low expectations and not being in great shape. The Big Star via Lemonheads pop sensibilities. The riff is a doozie. Laid back and accomplished. The tumbling bass line and four to the floor is cool as a truck stop band who don’t give a folk what time of night they have to play until.

The bands legacy is shrouded in tragedy in and around the release of New Miserable Experience. The loss of the songs originator to a mental health struggle never registered to me between the MTV rotation, the spins it got at ‘FanClub’ the indie night I regularly attended and my purchasing of a giant lurid green vinyl square version of the single at the local record shop. Hey Jealousy is a perfect single. It’s delivery as an awkward sized and shaped piece of bright toy coloured plastic didn’t fit with the world of the song at all. It appeared to me “The Label” had fumbled their handling of the band. And still it was a hit. It was only many many years later I learned of the tragedy. The publishing ‘Shenanigans’ and the withholding of the songwriters money by A&M, his unsupported slide into self medicated treatment for depression and his eventual end.

And yet. It’s all there. In the song. The lost wandering being passed off as slacker cool. The Boho cool thinly veiling self loathing. The hope against hope that knows it will lose.

“Tell me do you think it’ll be alright, if I could just crash here tonight, you can see I’m no shape for driving and anyways I got no place to go, do you think it’ll be that bad? You were the best I ever had, If I hadn’t blown the whole thing years ago I might not be alone”

That’s the opening two lines to a massive sell out hit single? Hardly. That’s P.A.I.N. Pain

Slacker Cool. that was a thing in the 90’s. Heroin Chic. That was another. Ennui as an accessory. We struggled to really talk about stuff. We just loaded up on guns and brought our friends or we said shit like…

“If you don’t expect too much from me you might not be let down”

Is it any wonder we lost Doug Hopkins, Kurt Cobain, Etc etc etc. They made their pain beautiful and we danced to it.

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4 thoughts on “Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms

  1. Maaaaan I love Gin Blossoms. I have all the records, I think, but those first two are what everyone knows. There’s just something in the sound, it grabs me. This isn’t nostalgia for me, this is still in the rotation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tremendous post, Steve.
    For me, the line that really makes this song stand out is, “all I really want’s to be with you, feeling like I mattered too.”
    Countless songs have expressed the former but this is the only one I can think of that adds the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

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