Brown Liquor Vol. Two: Fall is Bad

I know what you’re thinking. Tom, Fall is good! A tremendous season! You think wrong. You are lying to yourselves and frankly, I am worried for you.

But the colours! You say from behind a knitted scarf, hands clasped about a paper cup of coffee. Yes, the colours. The colours of dead and dying foliage, discarded and laying in gutters like so much trash left to rot and clog the storm drainage. The colours of leaves that have, correctly, decided that this weather is appropriate for ending it all.

But the cool, crisp air! You shout an Eddie Bauer vest draped over your flannel button down, jeans rolled so we can see your Blundstones. Yes, the cool, crisp air. I call it bitter and bone-chilling and it makes my arthritis act up. I would argue that warm weather and sunlight and long days where my choice of outfit isn’t restricted by the cruel chill in the air is much better. But, of course, you “Fall people” must sit in your homes staring at colourful pictures of leaves and blackout curtains drawn during summer.

I get it, we all need to rationalize things. We need to believe that pumpkins and scary movies make up for a 4PM sunset and that horrible wintry mix, whatever the hell that is. But the correct response to this season is to stay indoors, light a fire – if you don’t have a fireplace you can probably burn your home for warmth – and grab a bottle of your favourite brown liquor while listening to volume two of The Racket’s Brown Liquor Playlist.


1. The Replacements – Left of the Dial

A slight change of pace for us at The Racket, “Left of the Dial” is a mournful ode to friends from The Replacements’ breakthrough album Tim. The band never really sustained any success in the eighties, chiefly due to rampant alcoholism and drug abuse and partly due to bad luck, but Tim is now recognized as a genuinely classic album that never got the credit it deserved. Jim Bean and a splash of water will go nicely with this, while you think about the friends you’ll never see again.

2. Kanye West – Runaway

Oh Christ, we’re doing this, huh? Kanye is a complicated figure, to say it kindly. To say it bluntly, he’s a mentally ill man who needs but refuses help as he actively tries to destroy his legacy as one of the most talented artists of his generation. “Runaway” is one of many tracks in the Kanye catalogue that explore self-loathing and problematic masculinity, so may I recommend a double of Seagram’s and Sprite while you listen to a dangerously broken man make wonderfully poetic music.


3. SZA – Drew Barrymore

Anyone, and this is going to apply to most of us, who has felt like they’ve been replaced can relate to this song. SZA, one of Kendrick Lamar’s TDE stablemates, has a beautiful way of cutting right to those feelings of not being enough and expressing them in a way that most everyone can understand. Line up three shots of Woodford Reserve and try not to text that person you swore you wouldn’t text at three in the morning.


4. Two Feet – Go Fuck Yourself

This one clocks in at just over two minutes and is all about how we tend to pretend things are just fine when inside we’re ready to explode. “Cast me far away / play these little games / acted all okay today”. The former jazz artist Zachary Dess has a way of cutting complicated feelings and just laying them out. With the electronic waves of bass all hitting in two minutes and eleven seconds, I think you might want just to pound half glass of Canadian Club.


5. Radiohead – No Surprises

Fun fact for you: I had no idea about Radiohead until I was 25 years old which, coincidentally, is today. I mean, I’d heard some of their songs, but I never registered just how important and popular these sad Brits were. “No Surprises” is a slowed down, lamenting song about someone who apparently has grown tired of living. Must have been fall when Thom Yorke wrote it. Anyway, enjoy a handle of Southern Comfort while you listen to this one.


6. Amy Winehouse – Wake Up Alone

Depending on how you view the world, Amy Winehouse is either a tragic story of unrealized potential or a case of someone who just never could lay down the bottle. Before her death at just 27 years of age, Winehouse released Back to Black, which remains one of the best albums of the last 25 years. “Wake up Alone” explores her feelings of loss after a bad breakup and how she tried to stop drinking in the aftermath. Maybe just a single Wild Turkey and Coke this time.


7. Anderson .Paak – Heart Don’t Stand a Chance

On its face, like most Paak songs, this sounds like a soulful jam about the pursuit of a woman. But as you listen, the lyrics reveal this is more of a desperate attempt to reunite with an ex that he treated poorly. It’s one of those things that so many of us know, that feeling of regret when you realize you messed up something great. Crack that flask of Fireball open, you’re going to need it.