Craig Finn has been awfully busy lately. A month and a half ago, Finn’s band the Hold Steady release Thrashing Thru The Passion, their first album in five years. And earlier this year, Finn also released the solo album I Need A New War, the final LP in a trilogy that he’s been working on for a while. Today, with a new solo tour looming, Finn has dropped a few different versions of a really good new song.
Like a lot of Finn’s best songs, the brand-new “It’s Never Been A Fair Fight” is based on fractured, heartsick memories of long-bygone hardcore shows. The “It” of the title is punk rock, and the song is full of scenes of what it’s like when you realize that you’re moving on, or that your own little world is moving on from you. Best line: “We said there weren’t any rules / But there were so many goddamn rules / We said that they’d be cool / But there were so many goddamn rules.” Or maybe: “If the cops shut down the shows / Just remember that we tried / And I’ll meet you at the place we crashed / In 1999.” Or maybe: “I think the scene’s gonna fall apart pretty soon / I heard a song that I liked on the radio.”
In a press release, Finn says:
“It’s Never Been A Fair Fight” is about the extreme difficulty of staying true to the rigid rules of a subculture as you get older. The character in the song revisits an old peer and finds struggle and disappointment in the place he left behind. I’ve always really loved this song, and people seemed to connect with it on my acoustic tour with Brian Fallon. Excited to be sharing the full band version with the world.
Finn has shared that horn-driven full-band version, as well as an acoustic take on the song that I kind of prefer, and a video of himself and his band playing it at New York’s Murmrr Theatre. Check out all three below.
“It’s Never Been A Fair Fight” is out now on the streaming services.