Rob Thomas’ cathartic ‘Cradlesong’

Even though he’s won three Grammys, Rob Thomas has no illusions about his place in the rock pantheon.

“I’m not Tom Waits or Wilco,” says the 37-year-old Matchbox Twenty anchor. “I’m a pop songwriter, and my job at the end of the day is to try and be honest, and to try and write songs about whatever is going on in my life. I’m not trying to look cool or appeal to a youth market, and if my music wasn’t getting older with me, it wouldn’t be as true as I hope that it is.”

That modus operandi spawned the singer’s recent solo hit “Her Diamonds,” one of the most unlikely singles ever released.

Set to a hip-shaking rhythm, the frank track — which he’ll be playing live in San Jose on Sunday — describes the pain suffered by his wife Marisol, who has a severe autoimmune disease.

“She says ooh I can’t take no more / Her tears like diamonds on the floor,” Thomas chirps in the chorus, his warm rasp nearly obscuring the lyric’s gravity.

But concert crowds still shimmy along to “Diamonds,” culled from “Cradlesong,” his new album. “I dance when I sing it, too — I just can’t help it,” he says.

The composer conceived the song at 3 a.m. in his home studio, while his spouse was asleep upstairs. Immediately afterward, he says, “I woke her up and let her hear it, and now it’s her favorite song, even though she finds it hard to listen to sometimes.”

Marisol also provided backing vocals on “Diamonds,” and helped arrange it. “So on one hand, it’s very cathartic, and on the other, it’s still very anonymous. That’s another part of my job — to write about a base emotion that everybody can relate to.”

The everyman approach seems to be working. To date, Thomas — either alone, with Matchbox or with stars like Santana and Mick Jagger — has sold more than 80 million albums.

But “Cradlesong” is his most mature work; “Getting Late” is an elegy to his late mother and the title cut celebrates the solitude the couple craves with their two dogs, Samy and Tyler.

“Unfortunately, my wife is dealing with a lot of problems, and she has to deal with them publicly,” Thomas says. “And traveling around the country, even well-meaning people giving you condolences after a while just grates into your skin. Until you’re like, ‘If we could just sit here, away from everybody else, then we would be perfectly fine.’”

 

Rob Thomas

Where: Event Center at San Jose State University, 290 S. Seventh St., San Jose

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $39.50 to $65.50

Contact: www.livenation.com

artsentertainmentMatchbox TwentyOther ArtsRob Thomas

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco police investigated the scene of a police shooting near Varney Place and Third Street on May 7. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD shooting may prompt new body camera rules for plainclothes cops

Police chief says incident ‘should not have happened’

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference about a $12 billion package bolstering the state’s response to the homelessness crisis at the Kearney Vista Apartments on May 11, 2021 in San Diego, California. (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
Newsom promises sweeping change in California’s $267-billion budget

John Myers Los Angeles Times California would embark on the most ambitious… Continue reading

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Most Read