"Tuff Gnarl" was an ever evolving song. Some of the working titles were "Sea Smart" and "Really Fast." The band manages to give youa great image lyrically and then crash it down with a noise jam. Typical? Yes. But "Tuff Gnarl" is a song that belongs to this collection.
The song depicts a sort of punk rocker or hard core kid coming of age. "He's running on a tufff gnarl in his head, he's got a fatal erection in his head, he's really smart and he's really fast, he's got a hard tit killer fuck in head." Thurston uses images of sex to describe this coming age. The character in this little story seems to have discovered the joys of sex and is trying to channel the urges somewhere else. Hardcore advocates were typically straight edge which usually meant no smoking, drinking, drugs of any kind and even no sex. The young man finds solace in music as a way to calm down "mental tool box explodes in music creates utopia, gnarls out the nerves." Thurston even makes a Big Black reference by using the words "sonic pig pile."
"Tuff Gnarl" has not been played since 1987. This is upsetting because its one of my favorite songs. Maybe it will make a triumphant return someday.
Funny performance from 10-13-87.