Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Are a Light

"You Are a Light" is a love song. Pavement is not known for too many love songs, but this is certainly one, and the song is as Pavement a love song as there is.

The first verse describes a life in chaos. Anxiety is abundant thanks to our impending dependency on technology. (It was recorded in 1999.) The technology frustrates and confuses, making a return to the good old days and suicide our only options. At least SM has his light or to whomever he's singing.

Another scenario is described in the second verse where SM finds himself studying abroad, in Spain. Silly American/middle-class phobias of gypsy children and mortuary feasting consume him. Luckily, he has his love to shine the light to lead him home.

Things get downright sexual as the third verse begins. References to driving sticks and a lot of hollering close out the song.

SM repeats that he is "the isolator." An isolator is usually a switch that does what its name suggests: it isolates electrical current. The current in this case could be fro his light or in hopes of powering his light. Either way, this is as passionate as the usually monotone singer gets.

The music of the song is easy and jazzy through the first two verses, but rocks and breaks out after the second chorus with a typical Pavement-esque solo. This switch in intensity is carried into the third verse. Overall, besides the jazzy undertones, the arrangement is rather minimalist. The simplicity of the band's performance is augmented by various blips and electronic flourishes here and there, never more clearly heard than at the very end.

(Th performance below contains alternate lyrics from the track I reviewed. SM was known to mess with lyrics now and again.)


KR said...

This song was on the first mixed tape I got from my first boyfriend--he had impeccable taste. It was also my introduction to Pavement as a band. I was 15, so I consider myself lucky.

I since have put it on my own mixed tapes to other boys. And, actually, form time to time, I still get a little teary-eyed when I hear it. I really love this song.

comoprozac said...

It's certainly not a traditional love songs by any means. But it's a love song nonetheless.