Modest Mouse’s ‘Float On’ Not Only Holds Up But Is An Anthem For Today
“I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going on, and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere,” Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock told The Onion in 2004. He was discussing the band’s new single, ‘Float On’. It was the first single off of Good News for People Who Love Bad News. “Our president is just a fucking daily dose of bad news! Then you’ve got the well-intentioned scientists telling us that everything is fucked. I just want to feel good for a day,” he continued.
That was 2004. The president Brock is referring to is George W. Bush. The March before this interview, The United States started bombing Iraq. I know this well because I was at Señor Frogs on my Spring Break in Nassau, Bahamas. TVs showed the beginning of the invasion while the DJ played Outkast’s Bombs of Baghdad. It was one of those surreal moments. A moment while you’re in it you know you will never forget. I was a high school senior who along with my fellow classmates went to Paradise Island for our Spring break. We were a bunch of New Yorkers watching the United States bomb Iraq as retaliation for September 11th. An event that knowingly and unknowingly changed us.
Since 2004, Modest Mouse’s “Float On” has, without realizing, been instrumental in my life. It’s a song that if you spend enough time at a karaoke bar it will come on. Usually, it is a mid-30-year-old, like me, singing it. This usually follows by a bunch of 20-year-olds ‘shazaming it. “Float On” is on numerous playlists (including our Ultimate Summer Playlist) that I have made or my friends have made and sent my way. Last week a buddy sent me a playlist to commemorate his birthday. It was one of the 100 songs that impacted his life. ‘Float On’ was on it. It’s a perfect song for any long car ride. It is a perfect song to cheer you up. It’s a song that I can hear even when it’s not playing.
Although not the best song ever written, “Float On” might be one of the most emblematic songs. An anthem of a sort. A song that means so much more than just a song it self. It is symbol. A song that makes you feel good for 3 minutes and 28 seconds. “Float On” appeared from the rubble of all that was dark and all that was complicated of the early 2000s. It brought a new level of ease that “we all float on alright.” That everything will be okay. It’s a song that 15 years later still resonates.
It is a song that instantly brings me back to moments even before the song premiered. I remember being in my car leaving school on September 11, 2001, and not able to head back home to Manhattan. I remember getting some shots from the bartender at Señor Frogs watching the U.S. bomb Iraq. And I hear “Bombs over Baghdad” in the background. I remember heading to college in Washington D.C. were snippers on my dorm roof, because you know, September 11th. When ‘Float On’ premiered we all just wanted something to make sure feel good.
Since then we lived through a recession, hurricanes and natural disasters that caused irrevocable damage, and we gave into our worst selves by electing hate and fear as our current president. But when all is said and done, and it’s just us and we listen to ‘Float On’ we are reminded: “Don’t worry even if things end up a bit too heavy we’ll all float on alright”. We will all float on. The world keeps moving. Positive things come from learning from the negative, heavy moments. We just need to keep moving forward. Keep floating on. Everything will be okay.
“After we got out of that dark spot with everything melting down with the band, I just wanted to make a positive record,” Brock told The Onion. We may be in dark spots and there will be plenty more dark spots coming, however, we can all use a song that helps us ‘Float On’ and smile as we do. 15 years later and ‘Float On’ not only holds up and is an anthem and deserves the appreciation of one.