Friday, October 08, 2010

Bad Moon Rising

Let's make this clear: I was not an early adopter or fan of the avant-noise-punk attitude. I diverged from my suburban high school compatriots in my early adoption of the Cars, the B-52s, Elvis Costello, the Boomtown Rats, and Devo, even the Clash; but you know, some things were just too hard to accept.

Until one of my friends in collage gave me a copy of a tape he made for a friend. You see, the friend in question was a DJ, and they exchanged tapes as a challenge; this particular tape opened with Sonic Youth doing Shadow Of A Doubt. (I still have that tape.  IT IS AWESOME.)

Holy fucking shit, but that warped me - really severely. The way the song started from nothing and expressed the absolute rage of being betrayed.... Fuck. Really, it blew me away, and I suspect that I have written about it before but fsck me if I will be arsed to look it up in the archives of this horrible, terrible, no-good blog.

But:, not too long after (although after I had a CD player) they released Daydream Nation, with the epochal Teen Age Riot (which even made MTV, minus the chiming/droning intro) and I got it, and I was lost, hopelessly lost.

The band has struggled to meld art, and punk, and pop, and every-fucking thing else. They included captured sound, including phone messages from Mike Watt. They played long songs, which punks did NOT do. They played stupid tunings on their instruments. Instrumentals. They married other band members. They ignored Lou Reed, and played with John Kruth.

Well, how can I not love them? they have done everything almost exactly wrong, and not cared.

The first time I saw them was as the first opening band in a barn show; the next crew was Social Distortion and the headliner was Neil Young and Crazy Horse. My enduring memory was the yuppies behind us complaining about the opening bands, and telling them to shut the fuck up because these are the bands Young asked to participate, and if they were expecting something different, they better leave. Not too long after NY and Crazy Horse hit the stage, they did. 

the Sonics hit the stage, and before they played a note, Thurston Moore name-checked locals Die Kreuzen. That made my night because I know a couple of the DK guys. But then they got busy and got noisy.  It was a very noisy show.

Let me clarify a bit here; since those days of that old tape, I have really developed a taste for noisy 'music'. Atonal, anti-rhythmic, the kinds of things that you might usually use to drive away rodents (although I WILL tell you that it does NOT work at ALL on squirrels. Fuckers).  The Mekons.  Of course.  Music to sterilize small mammals.

But;  it's still music, you know?  It's not a popularity contest. In their day, Beethoven and others were also condemned as not musical, atonal.  But after time...

Maybe it's part of what also attracts me to the Mekons;  the willingness of musicians to reach beyond what is normal, what is typical, what they are able to actually do.  Sometimes, yes, their reach exceeds their grasp.

But you know what?  If nobody tries to reach beyond their grasp, humans will stagnate.  And I am trying, trying, desperately trying to remember, to resurrect, that reach.

And I listen to the noise, and fear that I may no longer be able make that reach.


  1. When I read about the yout' & their tunes, I realize I can't really comment beyond "Too bad you weren't born when I was; you could be equally wretched, but have impeccable musical taste."

    Cum on feel the noize!

  2. If I reach beyond my grasp, it is because the Frau Doktorin has moved the booze again.

  3. I saw Sonic Youth play with Patti Smith in an encore at her annual b-day party in Manhattan.

    "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog"

    I can't remember the year, but I remember the song like I saw it last night.

  4. Collage?? :)

    But you know what? If nobody tries to reach beyond their grasp, humans will stagnate. And I am trying, trying, desperately trying to remember, to resurrect, that reach.

    Get out of your head and back into the feelings. You remember what it feels like, and that is the path back to making exciting stuff and not stagnating. It's tempting to stagnate at times. There's some kind of smug satisfaction in it, but it's fake. Head back to the edge, Mr. Zombizzle. Hopefully I can join you there after I find a way out of my own stagnation.

    wv? cowtp

    Not sure if that's a nod to your dairyland heritage or to the bs. :)

  5. I look at creative ruts like baseball slumps. You don't get out trying to hit a home run. You have to analyze why you're not hitting in the first place, then make adjustments just so you put the ball in play. Pretty soon you string some singles together, then a double or two, and then finally, the big fly out of the park. But you're never going to get anywhere if you don't keep swinging.

  6. her annual b-day party

    I wish I had thought of celebrating my birthday once a year.

  7. Kim Gordon is BADASS!!!

    zrm... you a Pere Ubu fan?

  8. I love love love Teen Age Riot.