Lyrically Speaking: Bob Schneider's '2002'
A song’s lyrics don’t have to be overly poetic to be great. In fact, for me a story song, in which we can empathize with someone’s situation or one that places us in a situation past or present, can be just as moving as one that delves deeply into artistic verbiage or clever wordplay. (The worst is one that is cliche, where we can guess the lyrics before the singer ever sings them.)
Bob Schneider is probably known more as a singer or performer than as a songwriter, though I think he is quite good in that capacity. He has a kind of dual musical personality: He’s got a raunchy, rockin’, rappin’ side and he’s got an acoustic-based singer-songwriter side. He’s an expert at balancing the two sides (though they don’t necessarily mix on the same album).
His song “2002,” from his fantastic album “Lonelyland,” deserves some recognition. It’s him and an acoustic guitar and some really matter-of-fact, down-in-the-dumps lyrics of a guy who is missing is old girlfriend. He admits he’s done some things wrong in his personal life, really is trying to get his life together but realizes it’s pretty fruitless.
The song is written as a letter to this woman telling her how his life has gone since their breakup. Sounds depressing? Yeah, well as he sings, “Doubt things are ever gonna get much better/It seems like life’s one big whatever anyway.”
If you are not tearing up or feeling bad for the dude by the end of the song you have no heart.
2002 by Bob Schneider The year is two thousand & two I’m doing exactly what I wanted to And baby I don’t even think about you anymore
Just thought I’d drop you a line And let you know I was doing fine Cause baby it’s been a long long time Since you walked out my door
It took me some time I must confess For a while there I was feeling less than my best Had to get out of town so I headed out west Ended up in Seattle
I thought I’d start a brand new band Thought I might call it Lonelyland Things got a little out of hand Ended up hooked on heroin
So I ended up moving back over to Germany Living with the folks baggin’ groceries But the time I had was mostly free Spent most of it drinking
I got myself in a jam or two Guess it’s what I had to do But late at night I’d still think of you Felt like I was drowning
‘Til I met this girl at a discotheque She was a dancer, baby, but not what you’d expect She taught ballet and she was half-Czech half Chinese
But after she decided not to have the baby Said she might move back to the mainland maybe By then I didn’t really care I was half drunk, half crazy
I got arrested but never convicted My parents eventually had me evicted Tried your number it had been disconnected Guess I should’ve known
I heard you got married and you moved away I called your folks but where they would not say Said it’s probably better that way so I just let it be
I moved back to Austin ’bout a year ago Drive a schoolbus I don’t drink no more I go out every once in a while and see a show but mostly I just watch TV
So I don’t know where I’m gonna send this letter Doubt things are ever gonna get much better It seems like life’s one big whatever anyway
I just thought I’d drop you a line Lie and say I was doing fine ‘Cause baby it’s been a long long time Since you walked out my door
Here’s a short explanation of the song from Schneider in an interview with Andy Holloway in the online magazine 5 on Sunday in 2009 :
Andy: Your song ‘2002’ is one of the most sincere and genuine offerings about trials and tribulations I have ever heard from a musician. Can you explain the time period that caused you to write this song?
Bob: I wrote the song in 1998 after a bad breakup and I was sitting in a room in Denver. I knew that I’d be feeling better in six months or a year and I was daydreaming about having some kind of remote control that I could fast-forward through the next few hard months of heartbreak. Anyway, I ended up writing the song in an hour or two and now people think that it’s autobiographical when, in fact, it was what I imagined the next few years would be like at the time.