Tag Archives: pavement

I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’

“I’m tryin, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin'”

reappears, 25 years after Slanted and Enchanted, in Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar””:

Both songs are lopey and talky.  Stephen Malkmus is talking over the Fall’s “A New Face in Hell.”   Gomez is talking over “Psycho Killer.” Gomez, unlike Malkmus, tells you what she’s trying to do, or trying to not do.  I don’t think this blunts the basic ambiguity of the line — I’m trying to do something, but also, yeah, I’m a little trying, aren’t I?

Bonus track:  Julian Cope, “Try Try Try.”  Your famous victory will be no victory!

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I got a message for you

“I got a message for you, if I could only remember.  I got a message for you, but you’re gonna have to come and get it.”  Kardyhm Kelly gave me a tape of Zopilote Machine in 1995 and I played nothing but for a month.  “Sinaloan Milk Snake Song” especially.  Nobody but the Mountain Goats ever made do-it-yourself music like this, nobody else ever made it seem so believable that the things it occurred to you to say or sing while you were playing your guitar in your bedroom at home might actually be pop songs.   The breakdown at the end of this!

“I’ve got a heavy coat, it’s filled with rocks and sand, and if I lose it I’ll be coming back one day (I got a message for you).”  I spent a lot of 1993 thinking about the chord progression in the verse of this song.  How does it sound so straight-ahead but also so weird?  Also the “la la la”s (“Sinaloan Milk Snake Song” has these too.)

“Roll me in the greenery, point me at the scenery.  Exploit me in the deanery.  I got a message for you.”

The first of these I ever heard.  Douglas Wolk used to send mixtapes to Elizabeth Wilmer at Math Olympiad training.  This was on one of them.  1987 probably. I hadn’t even started listening to WHFS yet, I had no idea who Robyn Hitchcock was.  It was on those tapes I first heard the Ramones, Marshall Crenshaw, the Mentors (OK, we were in high school, cut us some slack.)

(Update:  Douglas denies ever putting the Mentors on a mixtape, and now that I really think about it, I believe Eric Wepsic was to blame for bringing the Mentors into my life.)

Why is this line so potent?  Why is the message never explicitly presented?  It’s enough — it’s better — that the message only be alluded to, never spoken, never delivered.

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October 2010 linkdump

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Made me feel like I was Paul Verlaine

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.

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Truck is stuck

CJ’s new favorite song is Pavement’s “Heaven is a Truck,” because it’s about a truck. He calls the song “Truck is Stuck” and has modified the lyrics:

Heaven is a truck

It got stuck

Man wants to get it

I singing about it

There’s an argument that this improves on the original. Here it is performed by Stephen Malkmus at this summer’s Pitchfork festival:

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