Song to Jump Up and Down to While Your Lungs Bleed

Cover of 1999's The Fidelity Wars

Cover of 1999's The Fidelity Wars

On January 1, 2009, Portland became a little more like California. The ban against smoking inside bar and nightclub establishments took effect and altered what it entails to go out for a drink. As a semi-recent convert over to the healthy side of life, I can’t in good faith argue that forcing people to smoke outside isn’t a better overall choice. Gee, let’s hang out in a crowded and poorly ventilated room crammed with people all exercising their right to emphysema. You thought your Jager and Pabst hangover was awful? After you’ve spent the night at a bar that allows smoking, it’s that on top of your throat feeling as if it’s been stuffed with soggy cotton. Thank goodness we legislated that problem away. Of course, it’s that aspect that troubles me about the smoking ban. Despite the fact that I soberly chose to quit smoking, I don’t like to feel as if I and all the other bar patrons were strong-armed into that decision.

I don’t miss the close acquaintance with phlegm or the extra wrinkles around my eyes. But sometimes I miss how it feels to flout good judgment. I miss the act of defying responsible behavior, if just for about six minutes. I miss doing something just because I know it’s bad and sucking up the challenge of dealing with the consequences later.

That’s probably what attracts me to this Hefner song. I found it when I was just out of college and still an unrepentant smoker, so I associate it with a comparatively carefree point of my life. I love how various brands of cigarettes remind the singer of significant people in his life. I love that he observes the subject of the first verse do something that she thinks upsets him (smoking in bed, which any smoker will tell you is one of the most deliciously distasteful locations to smoke regardless of who you’re sharing the bed with) but secretly, he lets her do it because he enjoys it. I love the count-off at the beginning and the final coda, sung high up in the singer’s register like a Beach Boys’ chorus. I love that “The Hymn for Cigarettes” is really a hymn for youthful insouciance and ambivalence. If it doesn’t cause you to hack up a lung, you should be dancing for this song.

  • Hefner ~ The Fidelity Wars ~ Too Pure

The Hymn for the Cigarettes


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