X – 4th Of July

First of all…Happy 4th of July to those that celebrate it! I also want to thank CB for bringing this song up last year on July 4th. I have posted the X version as well as Dave Alvin’s (who wrote the song) solo version of this song…I also threw in a live version from the Blasters.

This song was released in 1987 on X’s See How We Are album. The album peaked at #107 in the Billboard Album Charts.

This was written by the guitarist Dave Alvin, who had recently replaced Billy Zoom in X. Alvin still had ties with his former band, the Blasters, when he wrote the song, and in early 1986 he recorded the song with the group, with Nick Lowe producing. The sessions when downhill when Lowe decided that Dave should sing the song, not the group’s lead singer, his older brother Phil Alvin. The Blasters album was never released, and it ended up being an X song, with their vocalist John Doe singing it.

Nick Lowe told Dave Alvin something in these sessions that was interesting and career changing. Dave Alvin wrote the song but didn’t think he could sing it but Nick wanted him to. Lowe told him “I can’t sing either, but I’ve somehow made a living doing it.”

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Blaster’s music. Dave Alvin seems to cover everything from  blues, rock, rockabilly, country,  Americana and more. Here is a quote from him

I’ve always considered myself as basically a blues guy
but I don’t want to limit myself to what some people define as
blues. The “blues form” and the “blues scale” is a constant
in just about all American folk and roots music as well as jazz
and pop. Because of that, I can hear the blues in country music
as well as in the loud garage band down the block.
As a songwriter, if I feel like writing a polka one day,
I’ll write a polka. If I feel like writing a country song
or a rockabilly song, then I’ll do it. It’s hard enough
writing songs to have to bother yourself with somebody’s
categories.

Dave Alvin: “I wrote a long poem is how it really started,” Alvin said in the Zoo Bar’s upstairs dressing room before his latest show there last month. “It’s based on a true story in my life, back when I was a fry cook in Downey (California). Everything in the song is true,” “There was this little cul-de-sac and there were all these beat-up duplexes. We lived in the upstairs duplex. She didn’t want smoking in the place, so I’d sit on the top of the stairs and just stare at the cul-de-sac.”

“I was just trying to capture that moment. This is long before I even thought of being a songwriter. I was 21, 22 and I looked at the Mexican kids shooting fireworks and I looked at everything and I thought, ‘This is a song.’ Eight years later, I finally wrote it.”

From Songfacts

Alvin wrote a third verse, but decided the song had more impact without it, as it leaves the ending up to the listener. He told us: “When X wanted to record the song and we recorded a couple of demos for Elektra, one of the producers, who is a notable musician who shall remain nameless, said, ‘I’m not getting enough. It needs more.’ So, I thought, well, maybe I should pull that third verse back into it? But then I thought, no, it’s getting the point across. They’re either breaking up or they’re staying together.'”

This song is beloved by the band’s fans and has grown in popularity, but it was never a hit. A victim of timing, the late ’80s found X out-of-favor at radio stations, as anything perceived as “Punk” had a hard time getting airplay (Billy Idol excepted). A few years later, Nirvana knocked down that wall, but it was too late for “4th Of July.”

Live Blasters

Dave Alvin’s version

X 4th of July

4th of July

She’s waitin’ for me
When I get home from work
Oh, but things ain’t just the same
She turns out the light
And cries in the dark
Won’t answer when I call her name

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

She gives me her cheek
When I want her lips
But I don’t have the strength to go
On the lost side of town
In a dark apartment
We gave up trying so long ago

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

What ever happened I
Apologize
So dry your tears and baby
Walk outside, it’s the Fourth of July

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, Baby take a walk outside

….

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “X – 4th Of July”

  1. One of the best songs ever written. Dave is perhaps the most underarted American songwriter of all time. Thanks for sharing the Nick Lowe story. As huge a Nick fan as I am, I never knew he tried to do a record with The Blasters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mike. He is an incredible songwriter and I know some about the Blasters but didn’t know much about X.

      Like

  2. Thanks for introducing me to a great tune from yet another band I hadn’t known (X). I was only aware of The Blasters. It was our common friend CB who brought them on my radar screen.

    Happy and save Fourth of July to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy July 4 Max! Hope it’s fun for you and your family!
    Listening to the dave Alvin version now – quite good. I’ve heard his name but know almost nothing at all about him; same with Blasters

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The same to you and your family Dave! It is good and he is a very good songwriter. I know the Blasters better than X.

      Like

  4. I like X, but I didn’t know this song which is perfect for today and it would have also fit in on Song Lyric Sunday. I have to call my nephew later as today is his birthday, not bad having fireworks on your birthday every year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have X’s first four albums on CD but I’d never heard this one – it’s good though. Exene is pretty interesting – used to be married to Viggo “Aragorn” Mortenson, is now a conspiracy theorist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you bringing them up and they were on my list to check out…then the 4th came and I thought a good time to post them.

      Yea I just quickly looked at both…. they are pretty interesting

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Hey baby its the 4th of July” What a great lyric. Real good piece Max. Some good stuff in that take. I remember getting Dave’s first solo record. It took me a bit to get used to his vocals (now i dig them big time), he was the ax man in the band (Blasters) and Phil was the singer. This cut is a fave of mine.
    (Since you’re on an everything Blasters/Alvin/X try the Knitters. I think you’ll dig it. Hope you had a good day yesterday. Lots to celebrate.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we all had a good day man…really good. The Knitters…I sure will look them up no doubt.
      I liked his vocals…I’ve been reading some interviews by him…he seems a like a down to earth great guy.
      I like imperfections to vocals…if it’s too perfect it can get a little boring.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had some folks setting off small ones at our local park. Some bigger, louder ones were going off a bit north of our location. I’m thinking the field at the biggest high school or the racetrack. The town council would never have a fireworks display. They all hate America.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We were going to Nashville but changed our minds…they billed it as the biggest one in the country. It was over 30 minutes long.

        Like

      3. I do have a lot of great memories also….dang Vic we have a lot to catch up on…I will soon. I have to work tonight til around midnight…I won’t get home until late.

        Like

  7. Really interesting quote, as I wouldn’t really ever consider him a blues guy. He makes a good point about it being found in pretty much everything… and it makes sense to consider him a blues guy!

    Liked by 1 person

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