Happy 15th Anniversary to Queens of the Stone Age’s third studio album Songs for the Deaf, originally released August 27, 2002.
I will concede that I had never heard of Queens of the Stone Age before Songs for the Deaf surfaced, despite their 1998 eponymous debut album and its 2000 follow-up Rated R. But when I heard that Dave Grohl (a.k.a. the nicest guy in rock) was playing drums on it, I knew I had to snag the disc.
I was not disappointed.
The traveling was intense. After all, the album was intended to be a journey, given the change of song styles betwixt every track or the inability to discern who is actually the lead singer of the band—given that we have Josh Homme, former bassist Nick Oliveri, and Mark Lanegan all howling their guts out.
That said, the album is a road-trip. Conceptually, it was meant to encapsulate a drive from Joshua Tree to Los Angeles—or the reverse, I suppose. Hence the intro bits that are meant to represent flipping the radio dial while on the road and behind the wheel. It gives full meaning to the cut “God is on the Radio.”
While it still has the “robotic groove” that Homme was trying to achieve with the band’s self-titled first record, it completely rocks and stole my heart (and it reminded me that Mark Lanegan still hadn’t overdosed). Plus, if any stripper ever danced to any track on this album, I would be triply psyched and I’d be stuffing singles into a g-string.
Opening with Oliveri’s coked-up screams on "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” and then sliding into the hard yet poppy shuffle of “No One Knows” the listener begins to realize that the trip in the desert has begun. The triplet time signature of “The Sky is Falling” is worthy of a waltz at a wedding where the bride is wearing black nail polish.
“Six Shooter” brings us back into Oliveri’s madness but then we’re brought back into the gentle darkness of Lanegan’s “Hangin’ Tree” which could easily be covered by a blues musician worth their salt. Closing with the utterly delicate “Mosquito Song” is a way to bring you down from your trip; you’ve reached your destination and have gotten bitten on the porch. The journey is complete.
Songs for the Deaf easily ranks up there with concept albums like Dark Side of the Moon or A Love Supreme in my mind. Mash the big pedal on the right and set the controls for the heart of the sun. Play it loud, shiny and chrome. It has its title for a fucking reason: it needs to be played LOUD.
It’s impossible to identify a single standout track from this album, because they are all utterly perfect to me. Or to quote a track, “Dave Catching here saying goodnight. Not saying goodnight… just saying.”