The Indefatigable Matthew Good (Pt. II)
And that was it for the Matthew Good Band.
I remember not being overly upset; I assumed that there would be much more to come from Mr. Good, and by golly I was right (either that or he announced he was going to have solo stuff coming soon — I can’t remember). Anyway, it wasn’t long in coming. Only roughly a year after the dissolution of the band Matt released Avalanche, which I tend to regard as his magnum opus. I remember him talking a lot about Rachmaninoff around the time of this album, and you can definitely tell he was thinking symphonically; aside from using a lot of strings, most of the songs are fairly long (the title track is 7 mins 30 sec and both While We Were Hunting Rabbits and Near Fantastica are 8 mins), and many of them are structured around a long, slow build at the beginning that, aside from Weapon — which erupts into a basic but great anthemic rock tune — sort of crawl their way into and then nestle in some very interesting harmonic hiding places.
I didn’t actually like Weapon the first time I heard it. The opening line ‘here by my side, an angel/here by my side, the devil’ really bothered me — it’s just way too simplistic. But, as happens 99% of the time when it comes to Matt Good (we’ll talk about that other 1% a bit later), the music won me over and now I’m not bothered by those lyrics at all.
In a World Called Catastrophe
Speaking of lyrics, the writing on the whole album seemed paradoxical at the time; in theory, he should have been feeling great as it was around this time that he got married to Jennifer Good (née I don’t know), and yet these are some of his darkest, densest and most obscure songs (we would find out why later).
While We Were Hunting Rabbits
Things were looking pretty good. His solo career was off and running, he had a calming influence in his wife, he put on maybe ten pounds of husband fat, and the music seemed to be coming pretty easy for him, as evidenced by another album only a year later, 2004’s White Light Rock & Roll Review. I really didn’t know what to think about this one — at first I thought the title was meant to be ironic, but it only takes about twenty seconds of the first track Put Out Your Lights to realize that Matt was definitely changing directions (or at least doing a ‘concept’ southern-rock inspired album).
Alert Status Red
I simply chalk it up to his influences at the time; you see, being married let him not have to worry about women or his media image or anything like that (not saying he definitely was worried about those things, but if he was he no longer had to think about it — he stopped having hookers in his videos so maybe that tells us something), and so he took a big chunk of his thoughtful energy and turned it towards politics and human rights issues (i.e. George W. Bush is an asshole). He turned his website www.matthewgood.org into a compelling political blog, and for a while kept it up at a manic pace, doing sometimes four or five posts a day about all manner of the aforementioned political news of the day, along with the occasional post about personal issues.
Which is how we all — yes, all of his fans — found out how Jennifer left him for some business-guy type because she was only ever in it for the money; or, at least, that’s how Matt tells it (this became the song She’s In It For The Money on Hospital Music — I don’t think anyone has much reason to dispute it). Yes, he posted a fairly incendiary entry about his (now ex) wife which was taken down only hours later; I remember that I managed to read it while it was up but for the life of me I can’t remember the specifics — just that it involved some personal details which were the obvious reason he took it down when he returned to his senses. That started a messy period where he was going through the divorce — he posted a video of himself throwing his wedding ring into the ocean, and he made his displeasure with Jennifer quite clear when she refused to give up the ‘Good’ surname — moving to a new apartment and just trying to figure everything out. He announced that he was going to take off and go traveling the world, and how it might be a while until we heard much from him, but he’d try to keep the blog up. We found out later that his intention was to go to France and write a book, but he only made it as far as four or five days in London when he ‘had to rush back to Vancouver for a family medical emergency,’ which we found out later was only a half-truth.
You see, Matt has bi-polar disorder. The main problem, though, is that he didn’t know he had bi-polar disorder until Oct. 2006. When one has bi-polar disorder, one generally wants to know it as soon as possible so that one might get the proper treatment; what happened with Matt is that he had been suffering from anxiety, depression and insomnia (among other things) for years and, when not being misdiagnosed and so given drugs that tended to conflict with his bi-polar, decided to take matters into his own hands with the standard types of pharmaceuticals and alcohol. While he was in London he had some sort of panic attack and decided to go back to Vancouver rather than continue on his trip, and after coming back he had an episode of near over-dose on Ativan and alcohol from which he passed out and awoke in the hospital. Back in May 2007 he wrote an incredibly candid blog entry about this topic and how it has affected his life and career, which I highly recommend reading. Oh, and during all this he managed to release In A Coma, a best-of compilation which included some new material as well.
As awful as all this was for him, it lead to a proper diagnosis and he now he seems to have it under control. His latest album, Hospital Music, chronicles this low period with lyrical and musical directness, and he is currently in the middle of a solo acoustical tour across Canada to promote the record. The tour is called ‘Nothing To Hide’, which should give you an idea of where his head is at now after all of this.
Okay — some quick final thoughts. As I mentioned before, there is a small, 1%-ish amount of Matt Good that I don’t like. Generation X-Wing from Raygun; the acoustic re-workings that he did for In A Coma, which I didn’t even bother to listen to because acoustic re-workings of songs that I love so much do not really interest me; his early, early, pre-Ghetto Astronauts stuff, which he has never re-released but which you can find in torrent form and is only somewhat listenable; and, finally, the song I wish I could remove from the annals of history, The Rat Who Would Be King from Audio Of Being. I hate that song so much I didn’t even rip it when I converted all my CDs to MP3. The guitar is just so irritating, and his singing drones on and on like in no other of his songs. I can’t stand it. Oh well — I never have to hear it again.
And now for me there is at last nothing left to say — on Matt in general, anyway. I will be doing a Favourite Albums post specifically on Underdogs at some point in the near future, so look for that (it’s now done and here). In terms of a summation, well — he’s one of the Big Ones; you know, those artists or writers or musicians whose work has so much meaning for you they’re basically entwined with the story of your life. If you weren’t really aware of much of his music and you liked what you heard in these posts I definitely encourage you to follow up on it and take a listen to his albums — you may find them inescapable. 03971semaj