One of the most resonant characters created by Saturday Night Live’ s Chris Farley was motivational speaker Matt Foley, famously debuted in a 1993 SNL skit. In a too-tight plaid jacket, Foley/Farley enthusiastically cautions pot-smoking teens David Spade and Christina Applegate that they were bound to wind up in a “van down by the river” (just like Foley himself).
Although Farley died in 1997, his comedic legacy lives on, and is inspiring various musical outputs: A few months back, his old pal Adam Sandler penned a tribute song he performed as host on the pair’s old stomping grounds, Saturday Night Live. And now Columbus, Ohio folk-rock band Saintseneca has released a song called “In A Van,” a phrase very familiar to Farley fans.
Stereogum reports that Saintseneca’s Zac Little “was revisiting old Farley sketches with friends recently and was so inspired that he decided to write a song.” In a press release, Little described, “The gauzy ’90s TV sheen, the feathery haircuts, a couple cringe-y jokes that didn’t age well. But I saw his talent and craft shine through, in a way I had never quite noticed before. It was amazing, funny, and a little sad—knowing the end while witnessing the best all at once.”
The song references that “different sheen seen from afar” while also describing Farley perfectly: “falling down like none another / falling down, all eager to please.” The lyrics continue, “The brilliant bits / at our best, just reflections lit by a brighter light”—and it would be hard to find a brighter light than Farley, a soul determined to wring as much entertainment out of every opportunity he got; just check out that Matt Foley clip again, as he holds absolutely nothing back, even destroying an entire coffee table. But the chorus consolingly preaches, “In a van down by the river / I am living the life,” in a peaceful, placid manner that possibly even Matt Foley would appreciate.