Year 4, Day 36: Social Distortion – Social Distortion

Social Distortion’s eponymous third album is a quintessential piece of [punk] rock music from the 1990s. It’s still an influential album 26 years later.


Year 4, Day 36: Social Distortion – Social Distortion


Track List

  1. So Far Away
  2. Let It Be Me
  3. Story of My Life
  4. Sick Boys
  5. Ring of Fire
  6. Ball and Chain
  7. It Coulda Been Me
  8. She’s a Knockout
  9. A Place in My Heart
  10. Drug Train

About the Album

Social Distortion is the eponymous third studio album from American punk rock band, Social Distortion. The album was recorded in August through October 1989 and released through Epic Records on March 27th 1990. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It is the band’s most successful album. Tracks Story of My Life and Ring of Fire can be found and played in the video game Rock BandBall and Chain can be heard in the video game, Saints Row: The Third.

Thoughts on the Album

Let’s finish this year strong. It seems I featured a lot of punk rock on the project this year. I discovered a lot of the bands I listen to in high school… Social Distortion is one them. For a punk band, they have a certain almost country rock aesthetic to the sound. But the 1990s were a time of experimentation for bands, especially punk bands as they fought for plays over the airwaves. What gives this album’s uniqueness is the voice of frontman, Mike Ness.

One of the things I noticed when I first listened to this album way back when, was all the choruses sound repetitive. But repetitive choruses, when done properly, are excellent. This album sees the repetitive choruses done right and proper. The album opens with So Far Away, a track that leaves a great impression. It’s a great rocker that’ll pick you up when you’re having a bad day. Let it Be Me, is a fast paced punk song rather than a rocker with rockabilly styling, like So Far Away. The backing vocals during the chorus are excellent.

Let it Be Me leads right into one of the best (and most well known) Social Distortion tracks ever, Story of My LifeStory of My Life is a fun and infectiously catchy song that people will have no problem singing and airbanding along to. Immediately following up Story of My Life is a cover version of Johnny Cash‘s Ring of Fire. It’s a harder and faster version of the classic country hit by Cash. While it doesn’t carry the same “classic hit” factor as the original or tracks Story of My Life and Ball and Chain, it’s still a highlight of the album… complete with pick slides and dive bombing.

Ring of Fire is immediately followed up by the other massive hit from the album, Ball and Chain. The track is one of the longest on the album, clocking in at 5 minutes and 43 seconds… and of course every single second of the song is one of pure beauty and excellence. It’s an incredibly emotional vocal performance that Mike Ness seemingly encapsulates flawlessly. Other tracks to note, include the seemingly country rocker, Drug Train complete with harmonica; She’s a Knockout, and Sick Boys.


This album is quintessential 1990s punk rock music that dominated the alternative and college rock radio airwaves. Social Distortion is album that effectively, if not effortlessly, mixes genres. The influence of Social Distortion has been incredible and is still noticeable today.

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