LET THIS BE A ROSE TOWN
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

Viking Moses - "I Will Always Love You". Viking Moses knows he cannot sing this as light as Dolly Parton or as vigourous as Whitney Houston. So what's he got? He has the conspiracy of vinyl crackle, vague piano, an old electric guitar jack. He has his own cracking voice. I can imagine Moses sitting on the bus, rocked and swayed, listening to Dolly on his headphones & deciding that he must, must record this. Some feelings can only be expressed in a few particular phrases; some things need to be said over and over, while they still hurt. (Thanks, Tony.)

[buy the 7"]


Pavement - "At & T". 1. Right now my favourite musical moment in the universe is what happens in this song at 1:10 (listen), when Stephen Malkmus loses control of his crescendo, his grin, and his tongue. "Whenever," he sings, "whenever," he sings, then: "bababarababiba-whenever I feel fi-ine." When he finishes the line it's like the skier landing the jump; when he sings it, all slacker glossolalia, it's like he's throwing paint at a colouring-book with every splot landing between the lines. The goof that becomes a brag; the mistake that improves upon the original. "Bababarababiba" is about finding a new vocabulary for something you feel real strong. (All my favourite art does this.)

2. Pavement pairs:


poetry/party
scatting/skating
enchanted/slanted
prophecies/stuff that just sounds really good
i walk the plank for you/slip shag watching back

3. This song can't really be about anything. "Listen to the tender"? "I'm blue and green"? "My heart is made of gravy"? It's an an explosion in a fireworks factory; a guy on the dancefloor; a rock song with extraneous seams; a glorious wildflower field, one black bud after another. It's playing in splendor. It's nimbus games. It's bullshit.

4. This song is about secrets, about how they don't matter. Open everything up wiiiiiiide, just let the whole world in. Risk the deepest things even when-n-n-n you're feeling "fine". Open up your stocking ... open up your hands: in this rose rogue's town we can split everything 50/50. We can share all that's hidden. Go ahead and let the light in. The world is random falls.

5. The next best part of the song is at 2:55, when we come back from some treacled interior world and hear such a scream! A scream of looseness, of freedom, of the un-in-hib-it-ed. The end of distorted ghosts, yo. (It's a scream that the Salty Pirates cover, faithfully, at 3:34 into "My Academic Beard". Their version is squeezed tight, sexually desperate, and totally inhibited.)

6. I know someone who, in honour of this song, buys a spritzer whenever he's in Manhattan. I wish I had thought of that. Alternative suggestions are welcomed - put 'em in the comments.

(Part iii in my slow century of falling in love with Pavement.) [buy]
---

Destination:Out has composed a wonderful post touching on Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and the jazz trio Air, with the requisite nod to Michael Ondaatje. The wheeze and whirr of Air's "Buddy Bolden Blues" is reason alone to wake up this Thursday.

Posted by Sean at January 11, 2007 4:43 AM
Comments

that's some great writing there about "at & t." i've always thought the song was special and i think you've articulated my feelings nicely. thanks!

Posted by dan at January 11, 2007 9:37 AM

great choice sean. one of my favorite songs ever by my favorite band ever. i'm so glad you're falling in love with pavement.

Posted by george at January 11, 2007 9:56 AM

thanks for starting my day off with pavement. They make me so happy. I once fell in love because of Pavement, when "Gold soundz" made my boyfriend weepy
you need to start listening to slanted and enchanted though, by far the best.

Posted by MingMeow at January 11, 2007 11:11 AM

When I saw Pavement on this tour in Milwaukee, he amended the line to, "Spritzer, on ice in Milwaukee."

Posted by Paul O at January 11, 2007 2:56 PM

There's a lot to love about Wowee Zowee - and I second the Slanted and Enchanted suggestion - great quiet songs too and perhaps the most laconic drumming I've ever heard.

Posted by Lena at January 11, 2007 4:19 PM

terrific comments about AT&T, one of my fave pavement songs. malkmus is such a great screamer, too bad he doesn't do it more often. his lung-buster in HALF A CANYON is priceless, plus the way he drawls "shit baybee" at the beginning of that tune. the first time i saw pavement, they opened with GOLD SOUNDZ and malkmus sang it a capella until he got to the line "and we're coming to the chorus now" and then the band kicked in behind him. too magic.

and thanks for the shout out on the air/buddy bolden post - much appreciated.

Posted by jeff at January 11, 2007 5:19 PM

I've been enjoying your journey toward Pavement, Sean. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that it probably is (alright, is!) my favorite band (so predictable of me). Like someone above, I too saw these guys on the Wowee Zowee tour at an intimate student-only deal at the school I was attending. They were always kinda laid back, but this show reached new levels of lackadaisical (to toss out a Malkmusian word). Thanks for reminding me AT&T is good song. I always sort of overlook it.

Posted by Amy at January 11, 2007 10:05 PM

I have some unexpressible genuine fondness for that Viking Moses track.

Here's an explosion in a fireworks factory.

Posted by tuwa at January 12, 2007 5:08 AM

mmmm, wowee zowee. i saw malkmus in san francisco last weekend, tres jammy.

Posted by satisfied '75 at January 12, 2007 5:57 AM

Lovely cover. Lovely. Much gratitude.

Posted by c at January 15, 2007 1:25 PM

I like when Malkmus thanks Jacob Javits for his glass house. The gravy line is great, too. Though I prefer Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, as far as Pavement goes.

Posted by larzini at January 30, 2007 1:16 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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