Press | 'The Good Life' is discovered in Milwaukee band's cassette (April 7, 1988)

Marquette Tribune April 7, 1988

'The Good Life' is discovered in Milwaukee band's cassette

by Theresa Carson

The Good Life, the first cassette produced by the Milwaukee-based band Pat McCurdy and the Confidentials, is more than just a demo-tape that was commercially released.

The 10-song cassette unravels like a well-developed play. With melody, tempo and lyrics, the band (McCurdy on guitar and vocals, Jim Whitfield on bass, Doug Knight on lead guitar and George Wood on drums) creates scenes and atmosphere that swirl around a central character -- a man whose life is turned upside-down. In the process of dealing with his crisis, he explores the past and questions the meaning of the so-called Good Life. The storyline goes something like this:

Act I (side one)

The stage is set. According to "Stranger in a Strange Town," our hero, who left home to follow a dream, returns to find his woman gone and his world changed. "The story is true/but everything's changed/I've come back home/but it's not the same as it was before."

He blames himself, swearing that he should have loved her more. He beats his mind with a list of neglected loving gestures -- plucking the rose, holding her close, telling her how much he needs her -- until his mind is too dull to think anymore.

He mournfully begs her to come home. He knows that his love can feel the emptiness left by her unfulfilled expectations and her futile attempts to find adventure. Maybe her ambition got in the way. Maybe the disillusion of broken promises became too heavy. Her reason for leaving is not clear, but he wants to ease her pain.

In a desperate attempt to save the relationship, he vows to never let her go. He holds onto hope by refusing to believe that she's gone. The rain might fall, the sun might die, the ground might shake and the cold winds might blow, but he will not let her go.

He asks about what to do and what to say to make things right. Then, he finally realizes that she's not coming back. He cries in exhausted surrender, "Yes I try to love you/but you just won't let me." Yet, he knows that she will forever remain in his heart. Thunder cracks and rain pounds the earth as darkness falls on our hero.

Bitterness sets into his soul. She has reached the height of society where she has learned the rules of jet-setting and splashy dressing. He accuses her of forsaking those who love her for a superficial social set that partakes in casual, meaningless sex. He paints her as a callous, cold-hearted, social climber. And he comments on the Good Life with the biting sarcasm. The curtain closes.

Act II (side 2)

Once again, our hero is in a melancholy state. His love for her overwhelms him. He can't stop thinking about her. It makes them weak. He explains "Did you ever want somebody to hold you as you sleep/Did you ever want somebody to listen while you speak/Did you ever want somebody so bad it makes you weak/Well baby, that's how I want you."

He can't face the coldness left by her departure. His every action is done with the hope that she will become closer to him; his every word is said with the hope that she will hear him. He remembers their tour of the meeting. But, the foundation of their shared secrets was betrayed; it collapsed and crushed their love. Yet, he still tries to salvage what is left.

He goes in search of something. Maybe he's in pursuit of her. Maybe he has resorted to working for the dream that separated them in the first place. His heart beats quickly as if expecting to find her with her lover in a seductive atmosphere or an intimate embrace. He's acutely aware of his surroundings - the faces behind the coffee shop window, the slow crosstown traffic. He anticipates a variety of emotions and finally realizes that his search is of no consequence, except maybe the end of his longing.

Years later, our hero has reconciled with the woman. They're in the Wonderland of Love, a harsh and a cold place that's true identity is covered by glitz, glamour and artificial beauty. Ironically, the other characters don't seem to notice. Either they don't want to be exposed or their souls have been tainted by material goods for so long that they've forgotten what is real. The Wonderland of Love is the epitome of the Good Life.

Yet, not all is lost. From the recesses of our hero's memory, he recalls a vague scenario, a simple story about a couple who went to the Top of the World, far from the emptiness of the Good Life. And there they found true love.

Of course the beauty of all drama is that each viewer, or in this case listener, interprets the story differently. "The Good Life" might make you want to dance. It might let you cry. It might check you with its sensuous tones and honest tales.

Like a well-written play, "The Good Life" evokes thoughts about the human condition, human relationships, society and life. If you get a chance to hear "The Good Life", listen with your heart. You'll learn about the Good Life and the good life.