Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ann Don't Cry

Pavement rarely recorded a straight-forward break-up song, but "Ann Don't Cry" is as close as they came (outside of "Here"). The song is a veiled metaphor for another metaphor of the band's reality. Let me explain...

The song uses the metaphor of dying in a hospital to depict a slow, bitter-sweet breakup. With references to damage being done, "hope in a wonderful hospital man", and rooms with very, SM eludes to a breakup that was avoided but now must be dealt with. Is Ann crying because she's ill or is the relationship finally coming to an end?

The breakup feels like the end of the band. Again, damage had been done. SM (as were a few other band mates) was not having fun in Pavement anymore. Were the five friends the members of Pavement? I don't know if this is what SM was thinking, but it sure feels like it. This was a farewell album, and "Ann Don't Cry" might be the farewell song.

The tone and instrumentation of the song supports these theories. SM's vocals are not only sad but as disappointing as always. I don't mean that literally; it's just how I've always thought about his vocal styling. The depressing tempo and steady beat repeat until the sad little song ends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Silence Kit

I remember being on an early version of a Pavement list serve. There was a long debate over "Silence Kit" and whether "kit" was actually "kid" and whether that kid was male or female. Quite pointless, actually. It's about as pointless as some guy blogging every other week about the meaning of Pavement songs.

For me (and probably a few others out there), the song is a farewell to Pavement's former drummer, Gary Young. From what I've read about Young, he was a nuisance, an amusing distraction, and a necessary evil rolled into one hand-standing anomaly. Although, many seem to prefer his drumming over the rest of Pavement's drummers, it was undeniable that Young was a loose canon while performing on tour. He often consumed too many chemicals, ruined performances by tossing cabbage at the audience, and pulled guns on band mates. All of this tomfoolery - and the fact Young couldn't keep time - contributed to his being dismissed prior to the release of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

The song opens with an awkward guitar solo, backed by flourishes of drumming. One cannot help but notice the perpetual cow bell in the background. Soon, SM breaks in, out of tune as always.

The band's frustration with their former drummer comes through in the lyrics. They didn't want to babysit an immature, burnt-out punk that was a moderate-at-best musician and a mess on stage. Young obviously had a load of baggage that the other band members did not have time for. In the final verse, SM calls for the kit while Young saunters off to masturbate in an ecstasy-fueled state.

Gary Young later became known as "Plantman" thanks to a forgettable post-Pavement effort. I wonder whatever happened to Pavement's original drummer...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Easily Fooled

A b-side to the "Rattled By The Rush" (aka "Rattled By La Rush") song has been running through my head, lately. "Easily Fooled" is this jammy piece of happy that found its way onto La Rush's backside as well as the comprehensive Wowee Zowee re-issue, Sordid Sentinels. On the latter, the song appears twice: once as the original recording and then as a live recording in Holland.

Waiting for life to accidentally get better is what's fooling us all. It's like all those guys in line at your gas station, waiting patiently for that one lottery ticket that will be their salvation, when, all along, they could've saved all the money they spent on lotto tickets to buy that Hummer they've been eying. Your girlfriend will get better looking, if you wait long enough. Your band will be on MTV and headline Lollapalooza if you just wait for it. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point.

This great wait is the same thing that keeps most of us spinning our wheels, waiting for that American dream or some shit like that to come to fruition. It's what makes the working poor vote for conservative politicians in hopes of the trickle down to take effect. People continually take out more and more credit with a plan to pay it off later when their ship comes in. How foolish. That ship will never come.

The song's head-bobbing jamminess bridges the band's material between their final three albums. The off-kilter, stoned performance demonstrates WZ-era Pavement to a T. This song would have fit perfectly with "We Dance" and "Rattled By The Rush" if the rest of WZ stuck with this folky aesthetic. The lyrics suit the clarity and dominant theme of alienation found on the next release, Brighten the Corners. (I'm thinking "We Are Underused" and "Fin".) Pavement's third album was their most accessible and Dead-invoking which is where this song seems to be headed. I can't think of one career-spanning song in Pavement's catalog, but "Easily Fooled" does the second half of their tenure great justice.

I've always had this feeling that Pavement's greatness would be realized by the masses, but I guess I too was easily fooled.
PavementEasily Fooled