New Jersey isn’t mentioned in Fountains of Wayne’s “Bright Future in Sales.” But the hard-drinking salesman starts the song “Sleeping on a planter at the Port Authority/Waiting for my bus to come.” Plus the band’s primary lyricist, bassist Adam Schlesinger, grew up in Montclair. So where else could the salesman be from?
Like many songs on Fountains of Wayne’s great 2003 album Welcome Interstate Managers (which spawned an unlikely hit single, “Stacy’s Mom”) and the other albums the band has released since 1996, “Bright Future in Sales” evokes the complexities lurking under the placid surface of suburban life in a tight, catchy pop song (not an easy thing to do). At times, it almost gets nightmarish: “I try to focus, I’m staring at the screen/Pretending like I know what all these little flashing lights mean”). You can just feel the life of this young salesman spiraling out of control, even as he makes progress at his job. And then makes it back to his nice home in the burbs, and collapses.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.