Click Here To Join Dave's Readers' Group! Join Dave's Readers' Group!

Ten Songs by The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady are pretty much my favourite band. With their lyrically dense songs about drink, drugs, bad nights out and worse relationships, featuring a revolving cast of characters, they’re more like short stories soundtracked by the E Street Band.

And, as I’ve just booked tickets to go and see them again and I’m stupidly excited, here’s ten awesome songs from different points in the career. Check them out.

Chips Ahoy!

This is where it started for me.

My wife and I were driving into town one Saturday morning about a decade ago and this came on the radio. I instantly fell in love with it, while it annoyed the hell out of her. She has a theory that if your chorus is made up of ‘Woah!’s, it’s because you can’t think of any lyrics.

This was a no-brainer. A good song that annoyed my wife. I went straight to the record shop as soon as we parked and bought ‘Boys and Girls in America’.

Stuck Between Stations

Then, when I got home, I put the CD on and this came out of the speakers. Track 1 and I was already smitten. I was in deep smit.

“You’re pretty good with words, but words won’t save your life”. Better than Shakespeare, that.

Banging Camp

So then I had to go and get their other albums. ‘….Almost Killed Me’ and ‘Separation Sunday’. This is where they welded Craig Finn’s lyrics to Tad Kubler’s big riffs with huge propane tanks.

Constructive Summer

“Raise a toast to St Joe Strummer / I think he might’ve been our only decent teacher”.

Stevie Nix

I struggled with which ones to pick from ‘Separation Sunday’.

But, really, I always come back to the Big Riffs and nights out going horribly wrong.

Hurricane J

Their album ‘Heaven is Whenever’ got a pretty underwhelming reception. Franz the keyboard player left (along with his magnificent moustache) and the songs were less anthemic. You wouldn’t know from this song, though, when the chorus hits you like… well… a hurricane.

Listening to to them album recently, though, it’s grown on me and I actually think it’s a massively underrated classic.

The Weekenders

You know how I said the Hold Steady’s songs were like short stories? Well, it doesn’t get more true than with The Weekenders, which is a sequel to ‘Chips Ahoy!’

It also contains the line “She said, ‘The theme of the party is the industrial age, and you came in dressed like a train wreck'”. And that is reason alone to love it.

And, again, lots of background ‘Wooah!’s.

All songs should have handclaps and ‘Whooahs!’s in them.


From their last album. The characters are older. Regret and self-doubt are raising their ugly heads.

I’ll admit to nicking Hold Steady lyrics for my writing. ‘It’s a big city, there’s a lot of love’ is definitely in one of the books somewhere.

Stay Positive

But amongst all the empty beer bottle and pills, there’s an overwhelming message of positivity.

Killer Parties

As the band themselves do at pretty much every gig, it’s time to end with Killer Parties.

‘There is so much joy in what we do up here,’ Craig Finn says every time. ‘We want to thank you all for being here to share that joy. We’re The Hold Steady.’

And that’s why I love them. It’s just pure inclusive joy found in music.

So, if you’re going to the Electric Ballroom on the 10th March, give me a shout. Beers will need to be had.

You can get tickets here.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: