Rancid’s my favorite band. I appreciate artists that defy easy categorization by fusing elements of different genres, and Rancid’s combination of rough punk stylings and ska rhythms drew me in from the first time I heard them. However, their self-titled 2000 album was less a broad exploration of their various influences than it was a more focused jolt of purified, rocking punk energy. The songs are short and frantically energetic thrashings that represent the band’s hardest and most intense efforts to date. “Let Me Go” is one of a few tracks that even exceeds the three minute mark (most of the others are around a minute and a half), and it’s a glorious highlight of the album.

"Let Me Go"

The song thunders in with intensely raucous wailing guitars, perfectly evoking a tattered landscape of uncertainty that is just as relevant 15 years later. Tim Armstrong’s vocals are even rougher than normal on the album, and on many tracks they are pushed to their already ragged limits. He paints a picture of a world in a state of shifting instability,  ideological polarization, and destructive violence. But through it all, he still wants to try, to make a go of it, to somehow succeed and realize his destiny in such a world.

I’m a somewhat anxious person by nature—nothing too paralyzing, but I do tend to worry about things, among them the state of the world and its ever-shifting nature. The vision of the world’s chaos as presented in “Let Me Go” seems especially relevant now; the ensuing decade of the album’s release saw many seismic shifts—September 11 and the ensuing (and still ongoing) war(s), the almost total collapse of the American economy, intense political and cultural polarization, etc. etc. As an artist, I make a living off an essentially useless craft, one that’s especially vulnerable to economic downturns or other catastrophes. Although I can’t see myself doing anything else, I do fret about the tenuous place I hold in a mostly stable—but always vulnerable (as everything is)—society.

Rancid’s music often highlights the plights of the disadvantaged and underprivileged, and their own rags-to-riches history serves as an inspiration to someone like me who has experienced no shortage of despair and financial anxiety. But at some point, you do just have to say “fuck it,” and go for it. The world will never stop changing, and worrying about it will only hold you back.

Like the rest of the album, “Let Me Go” is fast-paced and energetic, but it does let up in its bridge section to a relative lull. The instrumental, wordless interlude stretches out, the drums and bass painting a landscape of echoing ambivalence and rattling turbulence before the tempo kicks back up again into the track’s conclusion. I sought to portray that aural landscape visually with an unforgiving L.A.-like concrete jungle and burnt, monochromatic color palette. I went with a more pared-down, graphic style (but with a fair amount of texture) to capture a more punk aesthetic, as well as the look of my earlier work.

 

Lyrics

Ok check this out
It aint impossible, it aint easy
Opportunity shifting here
So far the strategy aint working the facts are in it’s so very clear
I do what I want I can’t predict the future
And those who can I know that they are lying
I know the truth can be hard to swallow
A soap opera world leaders are crying
Correction I need no direction
Oh let me go just one last time
I spend my whole life searching for direction
Oh let me go just one last time
You can burn a book if you don’t like the answers
Or join forces with an AXL grind
USA protecting your cancers
A list if hatred is easy to find
Well there’s a growing sentiment in America
If you listen closely you can hear them all
Right is right wrong is wrong and evil
Consider it bad behavior
Correction I need no direction
Oh let me go just one last time
I spend my whole life searching for direction
Oh let me go just one last time
Bad generation polarize view
No one leaves home to go and help you
Watch CNN and then you know
US bombs come down, what you gonna do
Boom boom boom look around
There’s no more roof no more house, no street, no town, shot down
Burnt black and brown
electrical meltdown
You’ll hear the sound of the U.S. bomb all around
Ah it’s a shake down
It’s a break down
Atomic shutdown
And then you know!!!!!!
Correction I need no direction
Oh let me go just one last time
I spend my whole life searching for direction
Oh let me go just one last time
Correction I need no direction
Oh let me go just one last time
I spend my whole life searching for direction
Oh let me go just one last time
One last time….

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