Big Wheel is the title track of the album by Cass McCombs that Q Magazine describes as “his own double disc ‘Best Of’ – except he’s compiled it entirely with brand new songs.”
The music is a mixture of blues and laid-back rock, whilst the lyrics are all folk – and none of the middle-class rubbish that passes for folk these days – but the kind of folk which actually speaks for the everyday people.
It quickly becomes apparent that McCombs is a brilliant lyricist, one of the best I’ve heard for a long time. He gives descriptions so normal, so concrete, they almost become abstract.
I’m fighting the temptation to just type out all the lyrics, but here are some samples: “I dig the taste of diesel and the sound of big rigs” and “Garbage trucks lifting cans/In the morning sun/Behind the wheel of a bulldozer/Is my idea of fun.” He goes on to question the conventional idea of masculinity: “What does it mean to be a man?/How’ll you gonna tell me who I am?”
It’s one of those rare songs where the lyrics written out would make a more-than-decent poem all by themselves, not requiring the assistance of backing music.
Shot by McCombs’ long-term friend and collaborator Albert Herter in New York, California, and China, Big Wheel’s accompanying video flicks quickly and repeatedly through various shots, each easy to miss but many of them still somehow sticking in your mind, in a similar way to the lyrics. But given how closely the video matches the song in feeling, it almost becomes redundant. It doesn’t really add anything to the song, but it doesn’t take anything away, either.
Big Wheel is released 27th January.