Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Certain Songs #1484: Pavement – “Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse)” | Medialoper

Album: Watery, Domestic EP
Year: 1992

Slow it down, song is sacred!

The final song on the Watery, Domestic EP was definitely a precursor to the more classic rock structures and sounds that were going to be all over the rest of their records, as well as formally introduce a previously-hitherto unheard element in their sound: R.E.M.

And so “Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse)” kicks off with Gary Young playing the straightest of straightforward beats, with Mark Ibold’s bass is high enough in the mix to actually be heard while Stephen Maklmus and Scott Kanneberg volleyed Buckian arpeggios at each other.

Someone took in these pants
Somebody painted over paint
Painted wood
And where he stood
No one stands
It’s been said he’s sittting now
In the charming land
I’ve seen saints
But remember
I forgot to flag them down
When they pass

Of course, as the verses progress, Malkmus does crank up his guitar to make some appropriately rude noises, as well as taking his voice up to scream out (what I think is) the chorus.

And in the morning light
You hold that ashtray tight
You can put it out
But i can’t put it out

After the second sick verse — during which Malkmus shouts: “slow it down, song is sacred!” — the song drops to just the rhythm section churning away without a care in the world, and before you realize that they didn’t even have a rhythm section just two years prior, the guitars come in slowly and carefully, you hear Malkmus start singing:

La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da

Previously, there wouldn’t have been any kind of break before he went into the last part — but now there was space and light where there had previously been none. As he continues to repeat “la da da da da da da” ever more desperately, the guitars finally get to what you expect, jagged and full of noise, and yet still hooky as shit.

At the fade there’s a caution to people like me who were getting excited as hell about all of this:

Don’t expect
Don’t expect
Don’t expect
Don’t expect

But of course, it was too late: all I could do is expect.

“Shoot The Singer”

“Shoot The Singer” live in Germany, 1995

Stephen Malkmus performs “Shoot The Singer” acoustically, San Francisco, 2009

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