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.