In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re talking about some of our favorite songs about drinking.
Alkaline Trio, “Cooking Wine” (1998)
In his band’s early days, Alkaline Trio singer-guitarist Matt Skiba wrote a lot about what he knew: alcohol, girls, and regret. (That’s been a potent combination for musicians and writers for centuries.) When he kept it simple, he was at his very best. “Cooking Wine,” from the band’s 1998 debut EP For Your Lungs Only, has just a few lines of lyrics, but they all land squarely. “Sorry I’m late, I was out spoiling my liver,” he announces at the outset, before complaining about the sun, seeing double (I think that’s what “I can’t see straight, but the two of you look awfully pretty” means, anyway), and mulling over the lasting effects of cooking wine—always the last refuge of the day drinker who doesn’t want to go out to the liquor store. Another brilliant thing about “Cooking Wine” is that its already-sparse lyrics are simply delivered twice in a row, the second time with just a minor change and twice as much desperation. It’s the sound of a band finding its feet in the punk rock ’90s, carrying on the traditions of bands like Jawbreaker while adding just the right amount of angst and alcohol. Alkaline Trio would do it again and again for the next couple of years, adding to the drinking-song canon with “San Francisco” (“drinking to keep from sobbing”), “My Friend Peter” (“every night I drink myself to sleep”), and more.