Sentimental Seven: Ramshackle Glory’s Live the Dream
Or Why Ramshackle Glory’s Live the Dream is the Ultimate Summer Road Trip Album
Within the first month of summer, I had already driven over one thousand miles in my luxurious 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer. It may not have air conditioning, but it sure does have a (mostly) working stereo system. On every one of those road trips, I listened to Ramshackle Glory’s 2011 album Live the Dream at least once at full volume. It’s their first album together as a band, but lead singer/heart-of-the-band Pat “The Bunny” Schneeweis is a veteran of the folk-punk scene. To me, someone who initially thought the genre folk-punk must be a joke, I was blown away by the raw emotion and energy showcased here. Somehow, this loud and opinionated album found its way to my heart.
The subject matter here isn’t your normal light and cheery road-trip fare. Instead, Live the Dream winds its way through themes of anarchism and addiction without ever losing hope or more importantly, sincerity. I might not necessarily agree with Pat’s views, but it’s hard not to have fun listening to him shout about the federal government. Even the post office turns out to be a symbol of our laziness, who knew? This anarchistic, world-weary outlook is the product of Pat’s addictions and vagabond lifestyle, which you will catch glimpses of throughout the album. This album is incredibly personal. You can feel the toll this paranoid view of the world has taken on Pat. But you also hear the good parts, all the close relationships that form in this tight-knit community of misfits. I’m not a cryer, but it’s hard not to feel every pang when listening to Pat look back on the person he used to be and the people he used to know on “Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist.” The album itself feels like a trip through the life of a broken man named Pat the Bunny.
Like all great road gems, this album propels you from song to song without breaking stride. You can shout along to the album from the moment Pat first belts out, “This car is a war machine / it runs on nicotine and gasoline.” It really feels like this album was made to be listened to while speeding along Midwestern highways. The rest of the band keeps up the pace with everything from the customary guitars to accordion and what the band simply calls “junk instruments.” It’s messy and it’s loud and once you’re in it’s impossible to turn off.
I just cannot recommend this album enough. It’s a beautiful mess of ideas and emotions and it’s as authentic as it gets. And if you see a crappy red car barrelling down the highway, you might see me shouting along to this like a lunatic with a big dumb smile on my face.
BEST TRACKS: More on Alcoholism, Of Ballots and Barricades, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist
WORST TRACKS: N/A they’re all great