Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Summer Babe

One of Rolling Stone's 500 greatest songs, "Summer Babe" leads with an ode to Vanilla Ice's "Ice Baby" and continues with some of the most absurd lyrics ever put to tape. Eating her fingers? Mixing cocktails with a cigar? What's a protein delta strip?

The absurdity of SM's lyrics are only augmented by the tune's acidic guitar solos and outbursts. Even more ridiculous is the conventionally steady beat with high-hat accents and equally regular bass line. The only things the song is missing is some falsetto chorus lines and off-tune trumpet flourishes.

Thankfully, Pavement doesn't go overboard. The band creates a perfect pop song out of a playfulness missing from so much pop music over the past decade-and-a-half. The lo-fi production helps maintain the band's indie cred while the dramatics of drum play and SM's long note near the end make the song an epic piece to the indie rock canon.

"Summer Babe" was originally released as a 7" before appearing on Westing (by Musket and Sextant) and opening Slanted and Enchanted (as the "winter version"). Later, a live version was released on the re-issue of S&E. I only wish they'd release it again so that more people can understand what challenging, thoughtful music should feel like.