Monday, November 2, 2009

Jams Run Free

The 5th song on the LP Rather Ripped is called "Jams Run Free."

I have always wondered what this song was about. The only portion of the song that could/would allude to any sort of meaning is the first set of lyrics: " Blast ID earth, OM immersed, gold in cave, the blondes come first." The lryics were written by Thurston, so abstract is the name of the game, but is he referring to the end of the world? those that are judged in the end? did Thurston find religion? or just a god to worship? It's possible. Thurston has a tendancy to lead the listener on when putting forth his philosophy on life and living. I also think that the song is just about the end, the world, the band, life, death etc. The end. In the end, the jams will run free. No control, and no structure. Does this make sense?

I also think it's another jab at the bands dance with fame. In years past, Thurston has been quoted by having a "what if" attitude about fame. I think this song aims to set the record straught by stating they would change nothing of their career and truly love what they do. The title itself describes the band on many levels.

Debuted instrumentally sometime in 2005. This song was the centerpiece of the 2006 tour. Often clocking in at 10 minutes. I think this must be the bands favorite song from Rather Ripped as it is one of the only tunes from that album that is still played live.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

Here is a video with the audio of a live performance of Halloween from 1985. It's all i could find on You Tube of this song. I also searched my live archive and I don't have a live version of this song! Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Female Mechanic Now On Duty

The third song on the album A Thousand Leaves is called "Female Mechanic Now On Duty."

A friend once told me that that Sonic Youth was THE "indie rock jam band." Jam band? Never in a million years would I lump Sonic Youth into such a useless category of music but in retrospect, the band does have many JAM BAND qualities, although I don't ever recall them taking a 39 minute classic album and performing live for 4 hours. I would never put them in the same league as Phish or Widespread Panic, and their fans cringe at the same comments. In the end, Sonic Youth has an amazing ability when it comes to jamming, what sets them apart is that they are creative and expect and end result rather than "hey man let's just see where the music takes us." Its all the same without pot.

"Female Mechanic Now On Duty" wsa bore out hours of jamming. Most of the Thousand Leaves record was taken from bits and peices of long improv sessions at their studio Echo Canyon. The band called them "experiments" and released some of the instrumentals as "Perspective Musicales." Its obvious they wanted their fans to see the fruits of their labors even it all it is in 12 minutes of fuzzy studio feedback. Don't knock it until you have tried it.

In a 1998 interview, Kim and Lee both stated that this song was in response to the Meredith Brooks song "Bitch." Lee stated the riff and the movement of the song lended itself to a more radio freindly environment and until it was slowed down to a blues-y pace. I find Kim's lyrics to be far more BITCH than Meredith Brooks. I'm sure in the back of her mind she was thinking "Bitch? I'll show you bitch!" And you wonder why at age 57 I still think she's hot.

I will point out the end outro of "modern women cry, modern women don't cry" is quite clever.

This song, like all the others on this album, was played nightly on the 98/99 tour. It has not been played since.

A very rocking version of the song from 5/19/1998.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The only Lee Renaldo song to appear on A Thousand Leaves is called "Hoarfrost."

Lee always gets his ONE song. I always find it pretty cool that his vocal song is usually a stand out. I've read that Lee only prefers to sing 1-2 songs per LP. His tunes are usually more poetic, sounding as if he is speaking the words in a melodic tone. This song however lends itself to more of a "singing" style rather than a "spoken" style.

Lee has a tendamcy to supply more description and imagery into his lyrics. "trees passing high above like a spider the color is turning brown." The refrain "I'll know when we get there" is repeated towards the end of every section. It acts like a chorus to tell the listener the circle has come back around. I have always thought this song is about getting lost in the woods, or getting lost and trusting that someone knows the way, even if everything looks the same passing by one by one. A song about trust. This song is very delicate.

"Hoarfrost" was played sometime in 1997 instrumentally and then played nightly from 1998 to 1999. It was also pulled out every now and then on the 2000 tour but has not made an appearance since a small run of festival shows in 2001. I was lucky to hear this one on 8-16-2000. It's the only song from A Thousand Leaves i have heard live. You would think after the last 10 years another one of those tunes would pop up? It's the Sonic Youth way.

A rather different performance of the song from a TV appearance in 1998. Not sure when or where.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Contre Le Sexism

The first song on Sonic Youth's 1998 LP A Thousand Leaves is called "Contre Le Sexism."

This has got to be one of the weirdest openings to a great album. Opening an album with a an improv noise jam seems very ambitious, even for Sonic Youth.

This 3:55 jam has been edited down from a longer improv that has been said to clock in over 20 minutes! This song has never been performed live but some of the lyrics have popped up during live noise improvs of the tour.

A Thousand Leaves was not only an ambitous record, but a natural progression. I have always felt that most of the bands albums go in three's but this string of albums wsa interupted by the theft of the bands equipment in July 1998.

A Thousand Leaves was the first album recorded at the bands newly built recording studio ECHO CANYON. The constant access to a recording studio allowed the band to fully explore the art of improv song writing without the time constraints of a large studio bill.

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Winner's Blues

The first song on the album Experimental Jet Set Trash and No Star is called "No Winner's Blues."

How weird would it have been to have bought this album in 1993, took it home, played it, and found out that there is an acoustic song opening the record?? It's not just solo acoustic, its a very Thurston-ized solo acoustic song.

A very low-end heavy acoustic guitar rings with Thurston singing pressed up against a cheap micro-phone. The song is short but gets the point across. It almost sounds like a Lou Barlow four track rambling. "Burn out your eyes don't act surprised." I still feel that many of his lyrics are made up and edited on the spot. This tunes sounds as if Thurston was just searching for words that sounded "cool" together. The song ends with the mic falling on the floor. It's a loud boom! This is not an indication of where things are going because by this time, the band has figured out a thing or two do not want to repeat themselves from massive grunge influenced recpord they had made before. "No Winner's Blues" drips of melody and could have been more, but why ruin a good thing? Noise and feedback would have killed this little gem.

Has this ever been played live? Probably not.

One of the few songs that is in a somewhat standard tuning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nashville, Tn 7-11-2009 @ The War Memorial


Sacred Trickster
No Way
Calming The Snake
Silver Rocket
Leaky Life Boat
Malibu Gas Station
The Sprawl
Poison Arrow
Walkin Blue
Massage The History
White Cross
Shadow of a Doubt
Pacific Coast Highway
What We Know
Death Valley '69

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Skip Tracer

My favorite Lee Renaldo song is on the album Washing Machine and is called "Skip Tracer."

Lee returns to the use of his "talking" singing voice. Many of his songs are very poetic and sound like poetry put to music, this song is no different, only it has a melody that creeps out every now and then.

I like this song because it really "moves." Even though the opening riff is played for the first part of the song over and over, its Lee's intense lyrics that keep the song moving. The song builds and builds, but its brought down for a quiet moment "where are you now?....borrow and never returned, emotions, books, and outlooks on life" There isn't much of an eruption on the finish, but the band ends more of an emotional crash rather than a noise crash. I have always felt this song may have some deeper meaning than the fallin rock star it depicts, but then again, maybe thats what it is about.

"Skip Tracer" is one of the longest lasting Lee Renaldo songs. Of all the songs he has contributed or sang, this one has managed to get played on every tour since it's release. Of all the songs on Washing Machine, this one is the only song that ever gets played live anymore. This may have something to do with the 1999 equipment theft, but you never know, just another mystery yet to be solved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sacred Trickster

The first song on the newest Sonic Youth album The Eternal is called "Sacred Trickster."

Quite possibly one of the best Sonic openers since....well...since....Daydream Nation!!

"Sacred Trickster" is one of the most "punk rock" songs on the Sonic Youth catalog and it rings in at about two minutes. The track is very reminiscent of the material on Dirty and features some syncopated guitar scratching that was used alot by the band on Goo and Dirty.

This song is tuned to DDAF#AD. Although Lee is playing in DDDDAA. Might have to try that one!

The Eternal represents a return to form for Sonic Youth. The record is full of very "classic" sounds, almost as if they were trying to revisit every era of the band.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Love You Golden Blue

The second to last song on the album Nurse is called "I Love You Golden Blue."

The album Nurse came as a surprise to me. I had no idea the band was working on a new record, even when I got a sneak peek at some new tunes in at a show in June 2003. In 2004, I was very oblivious to many things around me and the fact that a new Sonic Youth album was coming in May, I was all the more happier, and it made the summer of 2004 even more memorable.

A promo copy of Nurse came to the WTMS radio station sometime in April or March. A freind of mine at the station was kind enough to burn me a copy a month before it's release and the last track was "I Love You Golden Blue." To my surprise on the release date in May, "I Love You Golden Blue" was the second to last song, followed by "Peace Attack." Other promo versions of the album had "I Love You Golden Blue" as the first song. Strange huh?

Oddly enough, when the band spent May through October on tour for the record, "I Love You Golden Blue" was the set opener. This song features Lee on the organ, which he would eventually do in the live set.

Like many Sonic songs, I think this one is about death. Or the death of a friend.

This is a strange kind of song. It features a sound scape opener for a good 2 minutes before any guitar comes in. The entire song acts like a soundscape and sounds like something that could have been on the NYC Ghosts and Flowers album. Nonetheless, it falls into a category of forgotton songs that only really existed to compliment the time period. It would be weird if they started doing this one again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style

The fourth song on the album Murray Street is called "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style."

This has got to be one of the weirdest titles in the Sonic Youth catalog, but strangely enough they actual use this line in the lyrics of the song. Pretty damn creative if you ask me.

I realy don't know what this one is about. It is one of my favorites from this era and it's a shame it never made it past the 2003 tour. I often wonder if it's another one of Thurston's songs filled with nothing but gibberish and slang words. I'm sure the title was just something that spilled out of his mouth at one point and it became cemented into the songs fate. Or maybe Thurston is a bonified genius.

Most of this album was done in two different tunings. On this track, Thurston is playing in CGDGCD while Lee is playing in GGDGGA. This features some great tunings. Around this time, Thurston was usually playing the top two strings ringing open while riffing on the bottom four. Lee has a similar technique in his playing as well. But what strikes me about this tuning is the noise factor. This song breaks into noise after the two main (and rather wordy) verses end. Apparently there is a trumpet and saxophone on this song, but I can't tell. Please bring this back!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cool Videos!

Here is a really cool video from 2003!
The abnd is playing "Catholic Block" from Sister but the video has it labeled as "Plastic Sun"

Here is Empty Page from the same show:

Plastic Sun

The second to last song on Murrary Street is called "Plastic Sun."

In the early part of 2002  Sonic fans got a small preview of the upcoming Murrary Street album via  "Plastic Sun" was given away as a free download when the song was released as a promo in the wrong pitch. The free download features a few different lyrics and a different bass line. I used to have it, I should go look for it...

:::45 minutes later::::::

Ok. Can't find it, but I still have a few other places to look.

Plastic Sun reminds me of older Sonic Youth. Almost as if this song could have appeared on Confusion Is Sex or even Bad Moon Rising. There is no real chord progression and the song is driven by a thumping bass line along with Thurston and Lee doing all the guitars on drumsticks. Sounds pretty old school to me. Even the syncopated drum line with the lyrics "i hate you and your greasy friends" fits the scheme of the 1983 era of the band.

This song was debuted at the 2002 All Tomorrow's Parties. It has not been played since 2005. That's a shame because it's one of my favorites from the last few records.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Karen Revisited (Karenology)

The fourth song on the album Murray Street is called "Karen Revisited."

This song appears on the album as "Karen Revisited" but appears on every setlist as "Karenology." It has been told by Lee that the official title of the song is "Karenology" and was not changed in time to be changed for the pressing of the album.

If you own the vinyl of Murrary Street, this song has been displaced because of its 12 minute running time. It appears on the cd as track 4 but comes in as track 3.

This is another song that was morphed from a series of jams. Kim was supposed to sing this one, but Lee penned the lyrics and it became what it is. The other song in question was Sympathy for the Strawberry.

I don't have much to say about this one because it is my least favorite song on Murray Street. I feel the actual 4 minutes of the song would have been enough. This is one of the few times I feel the band has ruined a song with a noise jam. For a good solid 2 minutes, there is a high pitched fuzzy feedback that really hurts my ears. It wouldn't be so bad if there was something else happening. The song builds and has a nice finally when Lee yells "ask me if I care!" After that, I usually skip the rest of the song, sorry guys.....

I always wonder if this song is about Karen Carpenter. The band seems to be obsessed with her. what's with the name Karen? It gets used and kicked around a lot.

"Karenology" was debuted in September 2001 as an instrumental with all the other songs from the record. It was played nightly from 2002 to 2003. It has not been played since 2003.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rain On Tin

The third song on the album Murray Street is called "Rain On Tin."

Opening the doors to the studio has always been one of the coolest things about the internet. In 2001, the band began to embrace the the networking power of having a website and the "Echo Cam" that was on 24/7 in the studio made the excitement of a new record all the more exciting. I had heard many of the instrumentals that were "new" songs, but a finished record in my hot little hands in January 2002 was far off. I would have to to wait until June.

"Rain On Tin" was always a favorite from Murray Street. I believe there is a total of 15 words in the entire song! The song comes in with a few short lines followed by a cymbal crash and some dissonant chords behind each line. Then a "sonic" jam starts and continues for the next 5 minutes, ending the song with some well coordinated guitar work between Thurston and Lee. I have always thought that this song was borderline instrumental and maybe the band thought adding some lyrics could keep it from ending up as an instrumental. There is no real middle portion to the song but there is definitely a start and a finish. I could take this song as an instrumental because it does not feel jammy, it feels very well thought out.

"Rain On Tin" was played nightly, sometimes opening shows, throughout the 2002-03 tour. It came back in the form of an encore in 2004 several times, including the show I saw in  Atlanta in August 2004. It was cool to see them pull it out on a different our and not abandon it like some other songs

Disconnection Notice

The second song on the album Murray Street is called "Disconnection Notice."

While the band was making murray Street, the placed a webcam in the studio so you could watch them recording. It was on at all hours of the day and night and was pretty cool when you flipped it on and saw Jim, Lee or Thurston sitting at the mixing board. Pretty cool stuff.

In late 2001 Thurston told Rolling Stone that they were under no obligation to deliver a new record but have not heard from the label since the end of the previous year. Even with no label interest in a new record, the band went ahead on recording, after all, Geffen gave them the money to build Echo Canyon, the studio that sits on Murray Street.

I have always thought that this song was about Sonic Youth's relationship with Geffen. The 90's were over and the ever evolving music business has cast a shadow on on the early nineties, but the world has had a taste of Sonic Youth long before 1991. Part of me wants to think this song was about getting dropped with the line "did you get your disconnection notice? Mine came in the mail today." The next few lines "they're telling me that i'm disconnected" which could refer to Sonic Youth's place in popular culture or mainstream music. On paper the band looks terrible, but in eyes of the fans and record buyers, Sonic Youth were rock and roll gods. This explains Thurstons "what if" approach to the record.

"Disconnection Notice" was debuted in September 2001 as an instrumental. It has been played sporadically since the 2002-03 tour.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Empty Page

The first song on the album Murray Street is called "Empty Page."

After two years of dealing with a new set of equipment, and touring behind the NYC Ghosts and Flowers album, it looked like the band would take a small break and possibly do some other projects.

Not the case. During the development of the NYC Ghost and Flowers material, the band had to re-learn how to make noise, and they did this by pulling out many older tunes from 2000 to 2001 tours. "Kool Thing" was resurrected after a long absence.

The natural thing for any band to do during and after a transitional period is to keep up the momentum, and thats exactly what the band did coming into the year 2002.

"Empty Page" was the first song written and recorded for Murray Street. Thurston says that he intended to make a solo album with a bunch of new songs he wrote on his brothers "strange G tuned" guitar. He felt the songs were too pop and too structured and felt a solo record would be better. But after the band heard the demos and a few rehearsals, it was obvious that these new tunes would work great for a new Sonic Youth record.

"Empty Page" has an opening, a verse, chorus, bridge, solo, and coda. It is one of my favorite openings to a Sonic Youth album.

"These are the words but not the truth." Byron Coley claims that this song has to do with Thurston wondering "what if" about the band, and on a visit to Boston he kept wondering what his life would have been like without Sonic Youth. Seems interesting because at this time, Thurston was 43, and opening for Pearl Jam in 2000 probably got him thinking about fame and what it really is and what it does. This is deep, even for Thurston, but I consider Byron Coley to be a reliable source.

This was debuted in 2002 along with the other 6 songs from Murray Street in September 2001. it was played nightly from 2002 to 2003 and has made many appearances since that time. I hope they pull this one out again soon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sympathy For The Strawberry

The last song on the album Murray Street is called "Sympathy For The Strawberry."

Classic Sonic Youth drone. This song was built from the constant "no wave" riff that drives the song. Thurston and Lee add little blips here and there. It's a pretty slow song that carries on for 9 minutes. This is also a classic Sonic way of closing an album.

The song started off instrumental and was played on a short trip to Europe in 2001. I remember hearing about the "five new instrumentals" that debuted on this tour. This got me excited that a new album would be in the works. I also saw a video of the band playing a 9/11 benefit from September of 2001. They opened with the new instrumentals and this song was the first in the set an was announced as "Magik Chord." It even appears that way on the setlist. The final verson is much different as the early live version just sounds like droning with some guitar on top. Lee originally wanted to apply some of his lyrics that would become "Karen Revisited" and Kim wanted to sing "Karen." The two switched.

There is no clearly defined melody in this song and the words sound improvised. When I saw the band in 2002 and 2003, the words of this song seemed different both times and the song was extended well past the 9 minute album cut.

This song has not been played since 2003.

Monday, May 25, 2009


The second to last song on the album Dirty is called "Purr."

Thurston once said that the album Dirty was made in response to touring with Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr in 1991. He claimed that the band felt like it was competing night after night to hold their own against the two up and coming super bands. Being that Daydream Nation and Goo both took influence from Dinosaur Jr, it also safe to say that Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr also evolved themselves as a result to playing with Sonic Youth. "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" and pretty much the entire In Utero album is a good example of the Sonic rubbing off onto Nirvana.

"Purr" is such a song that takes away from that experience. It has a melody, a verse/chorus and even something that resembles a guitar solo using a very nasty sounding flanger! Pretty cool huh?

This was one of the earliest songs written for Dirty. It was debuted in 1991, probably during the Goo tour. "Purr" is a great example of the band showing its punk rock roots. The riff is simple and the song comes together with a very cohesive three chord change up. The beginning starts off almost like a Dammed song. Steve Shelley rocks the hell out of those drums, which is something new for the Dirty album. I always wondered why this one never got as much play. It was played during the Dirty era, but has not been touched since. I always looked at it as a show closer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peace Attack

The last song on Nurse is called "Peace Attack."

I was there the night this song was debuted on June 17th 2003. It was the first song in the setlist and was played along with a few others that would end up on Nurse. Thurston cam right out and announced this song was about the war in Irag, that had just began on Feb. 3rd of that year. It was Sonic Youth's small statement of protest. It was done right, and they did not get preachy. You have to love that about Sonic Youth, they just say what they need to say, and then they are finished.

"Peace Attack" is slower number. It has chimy and very bright chords with a clearly defined verse/chorus. By the time the band came around to making Nurse, they had been trying to get away from the free-form songs that had been so prominant on the previous 3 albums. Debuting this song during the Murrary Street tour was a clear indication of the direction that would be taken for the next few years.

This has been rarely played live. Just a handful of times. Its one of those mysteries of that band that probably won't be solved. "Peace Attack" is a song that came at the right time and is a subtle protest song. Maybe the band did not want it to become an anthem for the anti-war of the time. But here we are, 6 years later, and the war still continues.

Promo copies of Nurse had Peace Attack listed as the opening track to the album. Others had "I love You Golden Blue" as the opening track. Weird huh?


My favorite song from the album Nurse is called "Stones."

This song is a stand out for some odd reason. It could be that when I saw the band on the 2004 tour, this was the second song. I had the entire summer to get acquainted with Nurse, and this was a stand out track. Enough to get me going at the show.

I have always felt that this song was about ghosts, even if the lyrics use the word from time to time. But what about stones? I did some digging a fews ago, and found that in Death Valley, there are mysterious shaking stones. There are countless theories as to why they vibrate, but many believe its the ghosts of Death Valley.

I have always wondered why Thurston has such interest in deserts, and even in Death Valley. Does he long to live in such a desolate place? It has also been said that the song refers to Jerry Garcia or "The Dead." I personally don't think so, but you never know.

This song was debuted with all the other songs from Nurse at a secret gig in 2003. It was played nightly in 2004, saw some more play in 2005, and got sporadic in 2006. It has not been played since sometime during the Rather Ripped 2006 tour. I hope they pull this one out again for the upcoming summer tour.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sorry Again....

I'm lame. School, work, band, brewery. No time. Just give me a few more days or weeks to get myself straight....

Monday, March 30, 2009


It's been a long time since I have posted. Once again, I've been busy. Plus, the news of the a new Sonic Youth record will only make this blog longer. Starting April 1st, I will resume posting regularly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Friend Goo

The 5th song on the LP Goo is called "My Friend Goo."

This song was written completely by Kim on guitar.

I don't have much to say about this song. Mike Watt pointed out in the video for "My Friend Goo" that "Goo" was supposed to any girl who had a boyfriend that played in a punk rock band. She represents fandom and a punk rock groupie. "Goo" is the rebellious girl all young teenage girls aspire to be but can't make that transition. 

Not really played much live. "Goo" has not been played since 1991.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The 5th song on the LP Goo is called "Mote."

The return of Lee! I have a friend that claims that "Mote" is the quintessential Sonic Youth song. I would file this one under "Greatest Hit" collection. It's my second favorite Lee Renaldo song.

"Mote" follows "the hit" of the album. Strange because if "Mote" had been cut, it easily be an stand out track and possibly a single.

In perfect Lee fashion, the lyrics are derived from a Sylvia Plath poem called "the Eye Mote." The song was actually introduced as "Eye Mote" during early concerts.

The demo is much different from the version on Goo. For starters, its titled "bookstore" and does not feature a bridge and centers mostly around the ending noise jam.

"Mote" became Lee's principle song in concert, typically alternating with Eric's Trip. The song ended up surving longer than most of Lee's songs only getting retired briefly during the 1998-99 Thousand Leaves Tour. "Mote" was brought back during the 2000-01 tour and was played in a medley with Hoarfrost called MoteFrost.

Last April, Mote was the 4th song in the set! Pretty ambitious with the extreme noise jam at the end!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kool Thing

The 4th song on the LP Goo is called "Kool Thing."

This song is a radio song. Plain and simple. If there ever was a break out song for Sonic Youth, this is the one.

"Mary Christ" ends with the Kool Thing riff coming in, but the track ends and repeats the same riff. Many were puzzled for years about this until the Goo Demos surfaced only to show that both songs go into each other and the ending of Mary Christ is from the demo.

Chuck D makes a special appearance on this track. He doesn't rap but talks. Apparently it took him one take!

This song is about being cool. Seems to be a hot topic with the band during this time. Sonic Youth could have felt indifferent about their new major label home. They could have also felt indifferent about the possibility of being "mainstream" cool rather than underground hipster cool. Either way, the label rejecting the first version of Goo could have been the reason why this song turned out a little different from the demo. It's strategically placed as the 4th track, around the other "radio friendly"  tracks.

Maybe I read too much into things, but he Sonic's themselves are very careful about what they do. By this time, They KNOW how to write a pop song, they just didn't choose to until now. To quote the Sandlot, "she knows what she's doing, she knows EXACTLY what she's doing!"

Another song in F#F#F#F#ee. Many more to come! This will prove to be Sonic Youth's most marketable tuning. Thurston has a tendency to write a whole record using one tuning.

"Kool Thing" was played nightly during the 1990-91 tour. It got some play during the 100% Dirty Tour in 1992, but disappeared from the set completely until the 2000 NYC Ghost and Flowers Tour. Yes, we were shocked to see it come back! In 2001, Kim sat on the stage, looked at me, and did the "hey kool thing! come here! sit down beside me" part while looking and motioning to me!! 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mary Christ

The third song on the LP Goo is called "Mary Christ."

After the longer droning outro of Tunic, Mary Christ starts out with a bang! A very jazzmaster tremelo bang that is!

"Mary Christ" has all the elements of a straight up punk/pop song. Verse/chours/verse/chorus. There's even a guitar solo thats emulated through a thick noisy fuzz pedal. This track makes it clear that Sonic Youth is once again being influenced by its peers, this song is very grunge! Kim also provides a nice "talk back" vocal in between every few lines. Trade off vocals are very "punk rock."
This sogn represents an eveuntual evolution into the 90's. Sonic Youth has already made their mark, but at this time, have their goals set into a different mode. How do you become a rock band? Could you call anything pre-Goo rock? "Mary Christ" is that effort. I'm sure having Don Fleming and J Macsis around couldn't hurt after all. Enough with the experimentation and "free sound," lets make a rock album!
The song is a about a friend of Thurston's, whom he used to go ice skating with. He apparently ran into her while on vacation in California in 1989. Inspiration at its best!
One of the earliest songs to contain the F#F#F#F#ee tuning. Used alot on this album.
"Mary Christ" has been played live since 1991.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tunic (Song For Karen)

The second song on the LP Goo is called "Tunic (Song For Karen).

This song is a tribute to the late great Karen Carpenter. The band seems to enjoy singing about her or making reference to her. They even covered Superstar for the 1995 tribute, If I Were A Carpenter. Ironically enough, its only good track on the tribute.

The refrain, to me, still refers to the mystery of the industry. "You are never going anywhere." Geffen, J Macsis, Don Fleming, and Gary Gersh all deny there was any pressure to produce a marketable, slick productive record. Thurston to this day still prefers the 8 track demos over the actual record. The sogn could be a cry for help or just an insane chorus tributed for Karen. Either way, there was pressure in 1989-90, and with a larger than ever recording budget, and 24 track studio with large ceilings, the band was out of their environment, and I'm sure they all thought their stint on a major would be a short and sweet one. "You Are never going anywhere" explains all that in one simple line. If anyone felt the pressure it was Thurston, who wrote this song while on vacation in California in the summer of 1989.

This song has not been played since the end of the 1991 tour. There is probably a reason for that. It's never been one of those "whoaa!!" live songs. It has a tendancy to make the album drag being that its only the second track.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dirty Boots

The first song on Sonic Youth's 1990 LP Goo is called "Dirty Boots."

Goo marks the start of a new era of Sonic Youth, the Geffen era. After being approached by majors for the entire 1988-89 tour, Sonic Youth finally settled on Geffen, because they were the only label that allowed complete artistic freedom, or so they thought.

Goo was practically written over a weekend and recorded in less time, atleast the first rejected draft of the record was. The band entered Wharton Tiers Fun City Studio at beginning of 1990 and busted out 11 songs on an old 8-track tape machine. The tapes were handed to the people at Geffen with the intention of being released as their major label debut. Leave it up to Sonic Youth to hand in the most super duper lo-fi album to a major label. In all truth, the band was mocking them and they knew it!

"Dirty Boots" sounds nothing like the band has ever done before. Thurston claims that being on tour with bands like Dinosaur Jr and Nirvana made him feel like he had to compete. Thurston also has the most "pop" sensibility of all the band members, so Thurston took the writing into an even more mainstream direction than ever before. "Dirty Boots" says it all.

The song was written in California in the summer of 1989. The lyrics managed to take many "slang" terms and string them together. Essentially, the song is about california and how fake it is. Could this also be a song about the industry the band was about to enter? I think so. Sonic Youth knew what they were about to get into. Dirty Boots shows they are no stranger to the music industry and its way of "screwing" over. the band entered this with a "take no prisoner do what you want" attitude. Now THATS punk rock!

There are three versions of this song out there. First the Goo version. Then what is considered to be the "demo" versions. Both Wharton Tiers versions are different, but only in length. These can be found on the Goo re-issue.

This song has not been played since 1993. I wonder why? Seriously! I do! I met a freind at a Sonic Youth show in 2004. We hit it off and had a great time enjoying the band together. Before the encore, she turned to me and said "If they play Dirty Boots can I kiss you?" If you've seen the video, you will know what i'm talking about. Good times.

The 1990 video:

Taken from the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke