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Michael's Number Ones: "Closure" by Chevelle



DATE

WEEKS

October 4, 2003

2

There's a scene in "The Angels Take Manhattan", a 2012 episode of Doctor Who, where The Doctor rips out the last page of a book he's reading, saying he doesn't like it when things end. Of course, it's foreshadowing for what happens later in the episode with The Doctor and his companions. I won't spoil the episode if you want to see it for yourself, but it's probably the saddest episode in the entire Doctor Who canon.


That episode likely resonated with me because I don't really like it when things end either. When I left New York for Washington State in 2002, I pretty much lost contact with my childhood best friend. Same with most of my friends after graduating high school two years later. I moved quite a lot during the 2000s, so it was hard for me to put down roots. At some point, I probably stopped trying.


But most things will end whether you want them to or not. The problem lies in how you deal with them after they're over. That, to my understanding, is what concept of closure is about.



"Closure" was the third single from Wonder What's Next, and immediately follows previous number one "Send the Pain Below" on the album. If "Send the Pain Below" was about how to recover from a previous failure or heartbreak, then "Closure" is about how to live with that event after it's happened.


Pete Loeffler's narrator on "Closure" sounds like he's knows he can't hold on this event indefinitely. "Phase you out, should've seen this coming. Go on confusing the soul, hold my breath 'til you rupture." In the chorus, he sounds he's moved on, or at least convinced himself he has: "Closure has come to me myself. You will never belong to me."


I can't find much on the genesis behind the lyrics in "Closure". As I wrote previously, the band recorded Wonder What's Next in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Maybe this song was their way of processing the trauma of that day. Or maybe there's a more personal connection between the Loeffler brothers and the song. Whatever it is, it's an eminently relatable subject.


It's hard for me to let things live in the past. The fact that I'm doing this column could even be evidence of that. I was entering my senior year of high school when "Closure" was released as a single. There's a natural excitement for most kids when they go into senior year, but mine was tempered with the looming reality that I probably would never see most of the friends I made once the year ended. The last page of the book would be written whether I liked it or not.


"Closure" was always one of the standout tracks on the album for me, so I was psyched when it got released as a single. It debuted on my chart at #18, which is still the fourth-highest debut ever on my chart. (The highest debut was at #13, which happened just last year, and that song will eventually appear in this column. I highly doubt that a song will ever debut at #1 on my chart.)


Perhaps it was a sign of burnout on the record as a whole that it only lasted two weeks at the top, interrupting the reign of "The Boys of Summer" by The Ataris. Even the best songs can only be heard a finite number of times before you become sick of them. And while I wouldn't say I got sick of "Closure", by October 2003, the album as a whole was winding down from rotation in my CD player. It's also not quite as radio-friendly as the previous singles, though it still topped out at #11 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart.



Chevelle continued on with a similar formula for their third album, 2004's This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In). They even ended the album with an acoustic demo just like on Wonder What's Next. I didn't quite like the album quite as much as Wonder What's Next, but it got its share of airplay on my speakers, not to mention alternative radio. Lead single "Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)" got to #4 on my top 40, and the follow-up "The Clincher" reached #14. After the album cycle wound down, Joe Loeffler left the group, and Pete and Sam replaced him on bass with Dean Bernandini.


Their fourth album, 2007's Vena Sera, didn't really resonate with me at all; I may have listened to it once or twice at the time, but by then my tastes were starting to shift. "Well Enough Alone" and "I Get It" topped out at #27 and #26, respectively, on my top 40 that year. The band hasn't been on my top 40 since.



Chevelle pretty much fell off my radar by the end of the 2000s. I don't even remember hearing "Jars", the first single from 2009's Sci-Fi Crimes, at the time it was released as a single. That really sucks because it's a kick-ass song. In fact, the whole album holds up very well. They were still viable on rock radio; "Jars" reached #5 on the Alternative Airplay chart, as did the follow-up, "Letters from a Thief".


I don't think we'll see Chevelle back in this column, but as long as they're still making music, I won't discount the possibility. The band has kept churning out albums in the years that followed, most recently 2021's NIRATIAS. None of them caught my attention, but maybe I need to revisit them. As long as they're available on streaming platforms, they're always within earshot for me. I guess you wouldn't call that closure for me with Chevelle. Their time as one of my favorite artists may have ended, but they haven't gone away. And I don't think I'd want them to anytime soon.


EXTRAS

Here's Benjamin Burnley, lead singer of Breaking Benjamin, performing "Closure" with Chevelle at a 2019 concert.



(Breaking Benjamin's biggest hits on my top 40, 2004's "So Cold" and 2005's "Sooner or Later", both peaked at #4.)


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