The Old Apartment by Barenaked Ladies


"The Old Apartment" is a song by the Canadian alternative rock group Barenaked Ladies. It was the band's first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, and appears on the albums Born on a Pirate Ship, Rock Spectacle and Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits. The music video for the song which garnered a Best Director nomination at the 1997 MuchMusic Video Awards, was directed by fellow Canadian and fan Jason Priestley at his own suggestion.

Steven Page has said that the song was partly inspired by "Back to the Old House" by The Smiths. While some have misinterpreted the lyrics to mean that the man in the song is stalking an ex-girlfriend and breaks into her apartment to terrorize her, Page has said that this is definitely not the case. The person in the song and his girlfriend are still together and happy, having "bought an old house on the Danforth" (Danforth Avenue in Toronto). However, he goes back to visit "the old apartment" "where we used to live," and winds up breaking in to reminisce. Although recalling "broken glass," the "crooked landing, crooked landlord," and other disadvantages, he nonetheless feels nostalgia for "fading memories / blending into dull tableaux."

The song, thanks in part to its video, which Priestley strongly supported and urged American networks to play, drew a notable level of attention in the U.S. Priestley also invited the band to play the song at the fictional night club, "The Peach Pit After Dark" on his series Beverly Hills, 90210. With some isolated exceptions, this was the band's first break into the American market, which continued with their next release, a live version of "Brian Wilson" from the ceritfied-gold album Rock Spectacle. The live version of "The Old Apartment" from that album was included on later American radio singles as a B-side option for stations.

The studio version of the song has two main versions: the original album version and a radio mix, which was a completely new mix of the song. Notable differences in the radio mix, besides a completely new audio mix, include an 8-bar instrumental intro and in Page's noticeably filtered vocal bridge.

Apple Inc. included the music video on the Mac OS 8 installation CD as a QuickTime example.

Then-new band member Kevin Hearn was, as with "Shoe Box," in the music video for this song even though he was not involved in the recording of the song. He plays an electric guitar, while Steven Page (who both played guitar and sang on the original) does not have a guitar in the video.