Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fillmore Jive

One night benders - no matter the drug - used to be a ton of fun, but I was never really sure why. You would eventually hit a point where all you want to do is pass out, be left alone, and wake up in your bed as if nothing had happened.

Of course, you know exactly how you arrived at this point. The night was electric. "The jam kids on the Vespas" and all of that. Crowded streets. Even more crowded bars or house parties. You felt alive. You grabbed the bottle for another swig, a pill there, a toke here. The night was going to be memorable one way or the other.

Then, it all hit you like a ton of bricks. You shouldn't have had that last drink or eaten that mushroom. This rock 'n roll lifestyle is old and not really that rewarding. So, you want out. You wanted to pass out on the couch.

Maybe you did pass out on the couch or in the kitchen or by the toilet or in the back of a car. No matter. If you could have just laid there with no distractions, you could have slept it off.

However, this was the night that would never end. Some late-comers entered with fresh cases of beer, a bag of weed, and some blow. You probably couldn't pick yourself up to join them at that moment, but you also couldn't drag yourself out of the room. You weren't just fucked, you were fucked and had to suffer while these douche-bags turned up the stereo and started the whole night over for you.

At this point in the evening (or morning) the room was spinning and you had lost complete and utter control. At best, you eventually passed out and snuck in a couple hours of sleep before slipping out without anyone noticing. At worst, and most likely, you puked all over the place. Someone cleaned you up and arranged for a ride home. Hopefully, you were just able to sleep in your own bed.

That's the Fillmore Jive.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gold Soundz

"Gold Soundz" is a relationship song. The relationship is new and fun in the beginning. He trusts her with secrets and likes how she laughs at the ignorance of others. He gives her space, but he likes that she's empty like him, etc.

Alas, it can't last. Remembering past transgressions drums up some hurt feelings, possibly even revealing new deceptions. There's a quick about-face. Secrets are taken back.

Luckily, it's a young love. The kind that's fleeting. The affairs that last a summer or a semester. The memories and experience are worth it if for nothing else other than the short-lived passions.


A couple of other thoughts...

Does SM sing "that I won't eat you when I'm gone" or does he sing "need" where "eat" goes? Eat doesn't make much sense. Need makes a ton of sense. However, it certainly sounds like he says "eat" in either a nonsensical manner or crass one. I sort of suspect the lyric is meant to be "need" and Malk plays around a little in the studio and changes it to "eat".

The phrase "quarantine the past" appears in this track. Interestingly, it's also the title of the band's greatest "hits" collection released earlier this year. The implication is that the collection attempts to quarantine the past, but in actuality, one can't quarantine Pavement's past, at least not from the alt rock reunion circuit.

OK. Make it three thoughts. The accompanying video is absurd. The band in Santa costumes go bow hunting for a dead chicken in an outdoor shopping center in order to gain the keys to a convertible...Well, you just have to watch it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Mouth a Desert

Why bother to enter into a relationship? It will just end. There will be sadness and heartache. Why even begin?

Such is the philosophy of "In a Mouth a Desert". Of course, looking back with those 20/20 goggles. one can't help but apply this song's message to the band itself. The band (we) always knew it wouldn't last. Stephen Malkmus was too good to be held back by the rest of his band mates.

Well, they did make it last. Pavement went on to record four more albums after Slanted and Enchanted and have now successfully sought out a reunion tour. For both, we are grateful.

Can you treat like an oil well?
When it's underground, out of sight?
And if the sight is just a whore sign,
Can it make enough sense to me?
Sometimes it's cool to get into a relationship as long as no one knows about it. Of course, the best part of being in a relationship is that everyone knows about it. So, is the relationship worth the investment just to hide it? Does this even make sense?

"In the Mouth a Desert" continues on with references to trust and commitment, using analogies of knots, twine, and faith. Of course, as any believer of entropy would attest, these relationships falter and unravel over time. In this track, the unraveling appears to be one-sided as one half (or even one-fifth) of the relationship has doubts that the other parts are equal to his.
I've been crowned the king of it and it's all that we have
So, wait to hear my words and they're diamond sharp
I can open it up and it's up and down
In the band's relationship, the "king of it" is Stephen Malkmus. His songs are what made Pavement possible and lasting. Sure, it was always a group effort, but without SM's vision of the "Pavement sound" and ability to create the oddest hooks, there would have been no Pavement. It was never an equal relationship.

Of course, these were SM's friends. And even from the beginning of the band's run, it was apparent SM would struggle with his loyalties versus his ambitions...
I've been down, the king of it and it's all that we have
I've been down and I could wait to hear the words
They're diamond sharp today
I always suspect that SM's friendships with the rest of Pavement is what kept them together for so long and possibly fueled the reunion. Malk didn't want to be the center of attention. He wanted his friends to be able to play the parts as he envisioned them. On the same token, the rest of the band could see their limitations and didn't want to hold SM back. The inequality happened as it became apparent the other four members didn't have the chops to take Pavement to another level, to Malk's level.

A lot happens after "In the Mouth...", but the words are prophetic, even if they weren't intended that way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Well, I've got style
Miles and miles
So much style that it's wasted

Where is style most wasted? Where is individualism crushed? A place with empty homes and plastic cones. Kids sitting on the curb at the 7-11 smoking the cigarettes they stole from their mother's purse. Discussions revolve around stolen hub caps and an endless dance around revealing anything real or personal. Patterns of generations broken in hopes continuing in a sterile, benign environment, free of crime (aside from stolen rims) and worry. A place where the biggest concern is the nightly weather report.

Yep. I'm talking about the suburbs. Any distinction between families, homes, personalities is squelched in the conformity of good schools, tract housing, and SUV's.

Unbeknown to those who escaped to the suburbs is how it kills their kids. Such a white-washed existence is absent any inspiration. Bored suburban kids make do with whatever they can get their hands and their parents' disposable incomes on in hopes of filling that creative void. There's a reason why you can get way more drugs in communities with street named for the trees they've cut down. Petty theft and date rape fills their time as they wait to become their parents.

Conversely, some of those kids use these dire situations as inspiration to get out, mentally and spiritually if not physically. They write or learn to play guitar. Some of them form bands and make a living at that. Thankfully, Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg hopped off their skateboards and returned from their studies out of state record a few songs.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Speak, See, Remember

Breaking up is hard to do. You avoid it. You try to paint the breakup as a chance for new opportunities. No matter how you dance around it, it's inevitable. It will suck for one or both of you. There are no such things as good breakups.

Pavement had their breakup over Terror Twilight. Sure, there was a tour following, but it was a goodbye tour and TT was their goodbye album. I don't know how it affected the band members, but I know it was rough on the fans.

To cope, we turned to the things that got us through. We remembered the good times. We focused on future opportunities to make the best of these hard times. Pavement opened us up to many new bands. The breakup would at least leave us with a better perspective on the music landscape than we had before Pavement.

That and we waited for the reunion.

We've talked about this reunion for years, at least since the Pixies reunited (the first time). Soon, we'll see Pavement at Lollapalooza, in Central Park, at Coachella, or wherever they land. Then, we'll remember what those days in the mid-nineties were like.

"Speak, See, Remember" may not have intentionally been about Pavement's breakup, but it was about a breakup in a general sense. The album's title is mentioned. "Terror twilight" has been described as that ominous moment right before the sun sets. This track may very well have been that ghastly moment. Luckily, SM is there to assure us that it will be OK. I mean, he had a new album out in just over 18 months.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The rumors of this blog's death have been greatly exaggerated.

A friend popped up on Twitter this evening and suggested that "Grounded"
is "[T]he soundtrack to the perfect dusk drive. Windows down, natch..." I couldn't agree more.

This song makes me want to swerve back and forth on a lonely country road, crickets chirping, a warm breeze in my face...

The life of a doctor is so slow, so mundane. He goes through his days like any working other working stiff, except he holds someone's life in his hands. If you make a mistake at your job, your workplace loses some money or a client. A doctor fucks up and someone's dead.

But it's a business. The doctor comes in to work everyday. At the end of the day, he calls home and drives off in his sedan. His day ends when he leaves the hospital.

Funny how this song came to my attention at the height of the health care reform in this country. Folks arguing over letting the government take care of our health needs or to just allow things to stay as they are. I won't take sides here. The fact is that people are suffering, even dying while we figure this mess out.

It's a business. There will be profits and there will be losses. Boys are dying on these streets.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Painted Soldiers

If Spiral Stairs, aka Scott Kannberg, had written this post-Pavement, one could easily make the argument that the song's about Stephen Malkmus. It's no secret that Malkmus ruled the roost when he fronted Pavement. SM dominated the songwriting duties throughout the catalog. Kannberg, the other songwriter in Pavement, was relegated to the occasional track and soundtrack submission.

The opening line explains Kannberg's place in the band perfectly: "That's all you're singing now?" Spiral Stairs contributed very little to the Pavement oeuvre, but as this song demonstrates, it wasn't due to his inability to write a good song.

From there, you get the feeling that the song is a tongue-in-cheek jab at SM and his perceived ego. Kannberg wonders aloud why "he" has to be so mean and hurtful. Then, he takes his own shot at the antagonist: "I knew he liked to talk about himself/but he wanted the whole world to know./It made me sick inside/I just gotta hold back."

However good "Painted Soldiers" is or where it ranks on your all-time best Pavement tracks list, it is hard to deny its eerie resemblance to several of SM's best songs. The woohoo-hoos alone remind me of "Cut Your Hair" and the dead-pan delivery is quintessential SM.

The video is classic. Kannberg fires the rest of the band and inserts Veruca Salt as the new Pavement. Highlights of the video include: Nasty at the horse track, Mark Ibold as a pimp, Steve West at home with his 10+ children, and SM in his Mustang with built-in fax machine.