All fans of the Flying Nun sound will enjoy “Heavenly Pop Hits,” a documentary about the New Zealand label, available in its entirety on YouTube. In installment 3, Stephen Malkmus talks about reusing a vocal line from the Verlaines’ 1983 single “Death and the Maiden” for a Pavement song. Malkmus doesn’t say which song, but as soon as he starts humming the melody — the Verlaines are singing “Is there any less pessimistic thing to say?” — it’s instantly revealed as the “made me realize I was on a train,” from “Box Elder.” One more secret of Pavement revealed.
Here’s “Death and the Maiden,” whose opening guitar, I now realize, is also identical with that of “Box Elder”:
And “Box Elder” (no video):
And here’s part 1 of “Heavenly Pop Hits”:
It seems I’ve already mentioned that I love Prickly’s cover of “Death and the Maiden” with the heat of a thousand suns. That version doesn’t exist on the whole wide Internet, but here’s Malkmus himself singing the song.