Bacitracin by Ed Purchla brings through an interesting string of lyricism and a sound that floats somewhere between the punk-pop wave of the nineties and Elliot Smith. This particular song pours through almost like a stream of consciousness, constantly offering up a new thread of thought. At the same time, underneath the passion and emotional honesty of the lyrics and that leading vocal performance, the simple but notably controlled strum of an acoustic guitar guides the rhythmic aspects and volume of the song, accompanied just occasionally by an unexpected and rather retro synth-display. All of this and more is why it’s worth pressing play for this one.
The overall sound of this song is an easy listen for someone like me, it comes through with genuine heart and sadness and openness. It also appears soaked in nostalgia in many ways – adding to the experience a welcomed journey down memory lane. On top of everything, Purchla’s lyrics are fascinating – the scene he sets, the story he tells, the gore and the observations, the other and the self – all of this is captivating, more and more so with every new listening session. And that’s something you really come to appreciate about this song. You can listen three or four times over, catching some new line or idea in every case – in the good old US of A, you get hurt you’re gonna pay – slowly building up a greater understanding of what it’s all about. Thoughts of our heavily medicated society constantly come to mind, and of the separation between the rich and the poor – the loss and the cure – the fact that the difference between life and death is often a matter of money.
Even when you fall victim to thinking this is familiar, the lyrics and these moments in which the vocals seem to break out of sheer desperation or exhaustion – this and the reappearing, unexpected colour of those keys – it all reminds you how very real and how very now this is. The song is so thoughtful, presented as such, and effective for its willingness to truly address the details in an unedited, unapologetic way.
There isn’t much to browse through in the way of social media for Ed Purchla, but his music is there for you. His value as an artist is perhaps multiplied by this lack of visual presence – this lack of narcissism – a rare thing these days.
Bacitracin is a magnificent and powerful song, heartbreaking but mighty in its approach, and mesmerizing to witness once you’ve captured the full scope of the concept and the clear passion attached to it by the artist.