As much as we try to revoke racism, black and white really are opposites, and even though rock and roll was invented by black people, we whites tend to settle into our own niche roles with it. And not that it would be unfathomable to meet a black person who liked Everclear, but it’s probably less likely than something like Weezer, with a more ubiquitous or goofy personality.
And you could talk about Art Alexakis as the quintessential Portland heroin user, but even this undermines his path in life, because indeed part of the reason why the music was so effective, stretched over so many artistic funny bones of the masses, was because he was a California boy, too, up in the actual estranged land of the Northwest as we observe on “Like a California King,” a song directed toward, and featuring the sound byte voice of, a smug Oregon politician disparaging the influx of the sunny boys from down south. Finally where Alexakis belonged was in the throngs of his own overcoming of struggle.
This arguably gave him a knack for great chord progression, but in “Strawberry” more than in any other song, his inner battle takes the reins lyrically. When I was younger, I sort of glossed over this song, preferring (sadly) “Santa Monica,” and the card-pulling semantic sneer of “Everything to Everyone” and “One Hit Wonder.” It seemed like such a crowd-pleaser, the sort of candlelight/bedroom cheap profanity.
And the very reason I hated it back then is the very reason I love it now: it happens. Back then, I’d think, This guy fu**ed up again, big deal, everyone fu**s up. Now I think, this guy fu**ed up, but it’s palpable, and as Incubus would say, he fu**s him in his own way, it’s his own. It’s tactilely undeniable via timbre and vocal texture, and therefore it’s the most simple and true, and in the context of the ballad, it’s unpredictable. What’s the end result, of living in California, of living in Oregon? You need a busload of faith to get by.