Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Folk Jam

I remember reading a review for Terror Twilight and how the jam band inside of Pavement, which had been festering for several years in their live act, was ready to unleash itself upon an unsuspecting fan base. References to Phish and the Grateful Dead were being thrown around. This was after the so-called "classic rock" ode that was Brighten the Corners was released in '97.

I don't care what the critics write. Pavement can never be labeled as "classic rock" or a "jam band". Sure, the band had classic moments and often liked to carry on a jam two or three minutes too long, but are they really compatible with the Dead or Zeppelin? I think not.

In their constant drive to define Pavement, critics attached these limiting labels to our heroes in order to make sense of why we love them. Maybe the fact that they were so undefinable makes them so beloved. I've been just as guilty of this as any real critic, but I've accepted that Pavement is just Pavement (with a nod to the Fall).

Regardless, the reviews and a song titled "Folk Jam" worried me. Were they literally trying to play a folky-jammy sort of mishmash? Was this their last hurrah of pot-induced folky, hippie jams? Of course not.

"Folk Jam" opens with this rolling tempo of guitars and drums that reminds one of a Garcia song until SM breaks in with his classically humorless delivery of a humorous tale. The protagonist wants something more out of his family history and life than what is there. The song celebrates the universal shortcomings of family. (This is either a jab SM's aging band mates or a lament of his own wasted life.)

The folky part primarily refers to the song's aesthetics, not so much the message. Despite the sound, your'e quickly reminded that this is a true Pavement song with lines like "Well, pardon my birth/I just slipped out" and "Beware the head of state says that she believes in leprechauns/Irish folktales scare the shit out of me". These have to be two of my favorite lines in their entire catalog.


Raymond Cummings said...


was gonna reply here, but just wrote a blog post instead.

comoprozac said...

Anyone else reading this should go to Raymond Cummings' post. It's quite excellent.