Yes Yes Yes Sunday Jammers. Greetings, salutations and yes to all open doors. Hope you’re keeping safe and bumping tunes. So, this week I’m loosely following on from last week’s offering; a classic band with a big tune. Also a heads up; the next two editions will stick with the band theme, but now from the new skool.
Today’s track comes from a towering giant of a musical outfit by the name of Pavement. I also have to throw out some love to an old friend whose love of them cemented mine - not really sure which came first but doesn’t really matter, it all ended up in the same place, one filled with gushing admiration and musical elevation. Pick any Pavement album and you won’t be disappointed, although you will note that some are more accessible, especially in the later period, but as I said last week -that doesn’t mean easy or throwaway. In the case of both Sonic Youth and Pavement I think it’s about finding a place between the two where new things get made, also there is never really a point where the abrasiveness or abstract characteristics of their music is somehow swept away and I think today’s select proves just that. The track is ‘Cut Your Hair’ and in technical terms it’s one of the band’s most successful singles, ranking high on lots of best of whatever lists – I never really had much time for rankings it always feels so arbitrary, but, if it’s about how many more people listened than previously then Yes, ‘Cut Your Hair' was a success.
The track is from the band’s second studio album Crooked Rain, released in 1994 (for anyone who’s interested check out Slanted and Enchanted, their first studio album) and I love its ability to kriss kross without leaning too hard into one element, offering melody, abstract dreamy whimsy and abrasiveness in one tune. The track itself is physical double entendre; on the one hand it’s penned to a person, but on the other hand it makes unmistakable digs about the over importance of image in the music industry. The sarcastic and humorous tone in the lyrics adds this air of irreverence, coupled with the cheeky refrain it makes me feel like I’m hanging out with friends, lamenting the absurd nature of it all and ripping it out of those who take it so seriously.
See verse two describing an encounter with a new band whose tunes are forgotten but the drummer’s hair made everyone stare and take notice – all wrapped up in indie pop candy, an example of sheer wit and elegance. I remember reading articles/comments about Pavement and the somewhat bonkers nature of the lyrics- I offer you a different lens; when listening to this tune or to any other Pavement tunes in general, treat the lyrics in the same way you’d view a mixed media art piece.It draws from different places creating something that is in some part linear and literal, abstract, static yet unbound, beautiful and whole. I used to think that it was also in some small part an inward reflection of their own place in the music game and an acknowledgement of some of the artistic and personal compromises they had to make in pursuit of mainstream success. Again, all wrapped up in this delicious indie pop candy, perfect for a Sunday Jam.
A couple of notes; there are definitely pockets for dancing, lyrics to shout out and a melody to carry you along but don’t get comfortable. There are punk rock distortions and soundplay that sneak in at unexpected moments, just adds to the layers and keeps it interesting. If you feel like it, turn it up loud, get who you can involved and remind yourself why gigs are great. Even more importantly: why we cannot let ‘the band’ ever die. There is nothing like the energy that comes with a group of musicians who can travel on the same wind without colliding, creating audio landscapes born out of beauty, pain, heartbreak, despair, anger, whimsy or whatever else. Each person brings some part that contributes to a whole, it speaks to the passion and skill it takes to keep that current going- see all the great ones, those who stayed together until the leather starts to buckle or the ones who were like supernovas, they came, they turned you inside out, then they were gone. ‘The band’ is one of the most special concepts in music, in all its incarnations it should never be allowed to disappear, from a fan girl to all of you. Happy Sunday