Ever since the first time I heard “Everything You Want,” Vertical Horizon has been one of my guilty pleasures. I’m not exactly sure why I refer to them as a “guilty pleasure,” though. Maybe it’s because the first few times I heard “Everything You Want,” I thought it was done by a boy band. It did kind of have that feel in the chorus, but I liked it anyway, despite the fact it was heinously overplayed by radio stations across the country.
Fact is, Vertical Horizon is a darn fine musical group. Matt Scannell is a grossly underrated guitarist, songwriter, and singer. I do think the group lost a little off the ball when co-founding member Keith Kane departed, but Scannell has managed to turn out some really fine music even without his original partner. My only complaint is that he doesn’t let enough guitar solos rip, like he does in songs such as “Shackled” and “Evermore.”
I also think Scannell is kind of cool because he hangs out a lot with Richard Marx. Yes, that Richard Marx. I found myself in a restaurant this weekend quietly singing along to “Hold On To The Nights,” so I guess you can say his music is another guilty pleasure of mine that really shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. I mean, the guy can write a good song, and he teamed up with Scannell to write one of my favorite cuts from the new Vertical Horizon album Echoes From The Underground, “You Never Let Me Down.”
The premise of the song is pretty interesting. The singer (Scannell) is basically saying he can always count on himself to wreck his own happiness. “Just when the game is through, I can count on you to make sure I never win.” It’s that frustration of knowing your greatest enemy is actually you. Pretty soon, if you’re not careful, you start believing you’re always going to wreck your own success, no matter what you do. “You never let me down…”
There is a glimmer of hope in the song’s second verse, though (unless I’m interpreting it wrong, which is entirely possibly, since I misinterpret lyrics all the time). “One day the undertow ain’t gonna let you go. What a tragedy.” Maybe one day that person within us that sabotages our happiness and hinders us in everything we try to achieve will be wiped away. Maybe he or she will become a distant memory, someone we used to know but don’t care to associate with anymore. “Stay, stay far away. No one but me here.”
So there’s not any guilty pleasure for me with this song. It’s well-written, has some ripping guitar work, and an arena-ready chorus. It also has a message I and countless others need to hear.
We don’t have to let ourselves down forever.