I remember being very impressed by this band’s proper debut, 1991’s International Pop Overthrow. Coming out of Chicago with a ton of great power pop songs, there were high hopes for Material Issue.
But then on June 20, 1996, singer Jim Ellison committed suicide by running his car in his garage. No one is really sure what compelled Jim to end his life (Being dropped from their label? The end of a long-term relationship? Chronic depression?). It came as a huge shock.
Point of trivia #1: I interviewed Jim once. And yes, the Valerie in this song is a real person.
Point of trivia #2: “Escape Is at Hand for the Travelin’ Man,” a song from the Tragically Hip’s Phantom Power album, is dedicated to Jim.