“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”-Abraham Lincoln, Address before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838
No man has shown a more profound understanding of the factional nature of America than Abraham Lincoln. And who better than our sixteenth president to be the subject of a punk rock magnum opus?
Glen Rock, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus have used the Civil War to distill years of suburban angst, manic depression and a distrust of their fellow men into a 65 minute epic narrative for anyone with an American heart that bleeds. Like Lincoln, TA’s frontman Patrick Stickles understands the American divide; unlike Lincoln, he expresses his thoughts through Springsteen and Oberst-drenched punk.
“So if it’s time for choosing sides and to show this dirty city how we do the Jersey Slide. If it deserves a better class of criminal, then I’m’a give it to them tonight.”
Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
If the Civil War is a story of the confusion of a Union during a time of slaves and failed compromises, Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor is the anthem for the confusion during the days of 4sqr and Snooki. Many scholars believe that chronic depression moved Lincoln to revive the Union before all was lost. Just as it took serious changes in the tides of war to reach peace, it takes Stickles some chaotic eight tracks before he accepts confusion and reaches peace.
“It’s alright the way that you live. It’s alright the way that you live.”
Titus Andronicus – “To Old Friends and New”
Despite winning the war, repairing the Union, and freeing the slaves, Abraham Lincoln’s work went unfinished. After his assassination, American confusion begat fear and hatred, leading into our current age of distrust and polarization. Perhaps the way to overcome this attitude is to accept our differences, as Stickles does on the sprawling “Battle of Hampton Roads.” He sees that we all are, and will continue to be confused –and he’s OK with that.
The FC recently caught Titus Andronicus at a church in Northwest DC. If you doubt that The Monitor comes from a real place, seeing the band live might change your mind. Titus Andronicus is playing a few northeastern dates this summer. For now, check out this recent performance at Maxwell’s in Hoboken (thanks to NYCtaper).