When the second verse of the Gaslight Anthem’s “She Loves You,” opens, Brian Fallon sings through smoothly-straining voice, “And Juliet was smoking out her window, saying stone cold, ‘I believe in you, Romeo.’’
It’s a quintessential lyric, one of those images that a song hinges on, is defined by, with everything before and after existing in context to that singular line.
For all that could be said about the song, the band, or its writer, that single lyric does the talking.
From 2014’s The B-Sides, “She Loves You” is both haunting and heartfelt, opening on spare backing vocals that texture the song’s city streets, rainy nights, and star-crossed lovers. Its instrumentation is thin, relative to the energy and sound Gaslight can pour out. It’s is a steady, but restrained thump, which allows the chorus’s melody to take hold of the song’s narrative, counteracting Fallon’s talk-sung verses.
Brian Fallon is a back-alley poet, and “She Loves You” is as a good of a starting place as any for looking at him as a songwriter, as it employs his signature juxtaposition of white-picket-fence-America and New York City street punk. He shows that high culture, low culture, and youth culture are all one in the same, writing songs that are modern-50’s, rock’n’roll literature, with classic cars, burning hearts, ashed cigarettes, fuzzy radios, and girls with soda-fountain names. But under his skillful pen, these topics doesn’t feel gimmicky or heavy handed in the 2010’s . Since ’59 Sound, Fallon’s seemed a character born in the wrong era, and still does, his timelessness coming to further fruition on his recent solo work, with songs like “Steve McQueen,” “Nobody Wins,” and “Rosemary.”
Then and now, it’s Fallon’s songwriting that validate the Springsteen comparisons—not the fact that both are Jersey natives—with words that fall effortlessly, convincingly, and timelessly from him, where they might seem forced elsewhere.
Despite the Gaslight Anthem’s indefinite hiatus since 2015, Fallon has remained prolific, releasing his solo album Painkillers, and having often dabbled in side projects, as part of the Horrible Crows and Molly and the Zombies.
While we wait for an eventual Gaslight return, it’s songs like “She Loves You” that endure, comforting us with the knowledge that writers writer, and Brian Fallon will continue to do just that.
WATCH: “SHE LOVES YOU” BY THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM