Living Colour: On A Life Of Self-Sabotage

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A pioneering rock band that came out of New York City's downtown scene in the late '80s, Living Colour briefly possessed a rare combination of massive popularity and political relevance. But by the mid-'90s, it had been dropped by its record label and the group members were fighting with each other; they eventually broke up and failed to release another album for 10 years. It was during this period that founder/guitarist Vernon Reid came up with a line that would stick with him for years to come: "Toss my keys in the river so I can't go home again." This act of self-sabotage seemed to perfectly represent what was going on with his band, and he finally uses those words in "Burned Bridges," a song from Living Colour's new fifth album, The Chair in the Doorway.

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Burned Bridges"
  • Artist: Living Colour
  • CD: The Chair in the Doorway
  • Genre: Rock
Living Colour i

In "Burned Bridges," Living Colour reflects on the futility of throwing everything away in an effort to start fresh. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Living Colour

In "Burned Bridges," Living Colour reflects on the futility of throwing everything away in an effort to start fresh.

courtesy of the artist

The rest of the track plays off the line, as the narrator announces plans to engage in every act of self-destruction he can think of. "Burned up my phone book," Corey Glover, who co-wrote the song with Reid, sings. "Threw away my watch and wallet / Gonna strip it all away / Gonna throw it all away." In his bitter delusion, he sees these acts as a way of starting fresh: "I've given up everything just so I can live." The song features a nimble, jittery bass line that serves as foreshadowing for its cathartic blow-out later in the song, during which Reid lets loose with one of his screeching guitar solos and Glover offers a final, more realistic self-assessment: "I've burned every bridge I've crossed / and now I know I've lost it."

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