Thursday, September 13, 2007
five times forever and you'll never get lost

One Song: Perfect Songs for an Imperfect World



download: Pavement - We Dance

The other day I had a debate with my girlfriend, where I contended that I didn't care about the cultural context of a piece of music. In fact, I think I made the assertion that it didn't matter at all. Before anyone goes and tells me that I'm wholly wrong, I'll tell you that I'm already aware of that. I get wrapped in an argument sometimes, what can I say? At any rate, while it would be foolhardy to proclaim that any piece of art can exist in the vacuum, I will stand by the statement that - at least when it comes to music (and I don't pretend to know much about anything else) - the cultural context is much less important than the personal one.

There are times when cultural and personal importance overlap. If you ask anyone who grew up in the 60s about the Beatles, they can attest to that. But, especially amongst hardcore music fans, there's often a special place in one's heart that's reserved for songs that haven't made a lasting impact on a wide range of people, but have made an important impact on you. "We Dance" is one of those songs for me.

If you took a poll of Pavement fans, chances are that the first track from Wowee Zowee might rank as some people's favourite, and it would probably crack the top 10 with a lot of listeners. It isn't however, consistently ranked amongst their "seminal" compositions. It's not "Summer Babe," "Range Life," or "Shady Lane." And it certainly wasn't the minor hit that "Cut Your Hair" was. In fact, I don't think it was even a single. None of that matters.

While we do - sometimes to her chagrin - end up seeing a lot of live music together, my girlfriend and I have a surprising lack of overlap when it comes to the music we enjoy. Pavement, however, is one of those bands that we can both profess at least some sort of fandom for. They were - and she might come and correct me here - one of the first bands that she was really into. They were also one of the first bands that sent me down the path that led to listening to more than hip hop and the radio. So, when I indulged in the cliche music dork pastime of crafting her a mixtape for the first time, I made sure to voice my affection through Stephen Malkmus' awkward lyrics, by tracking down the alternate mix of "We Dance" (which really isn't all that different from the original).

Back to the debate... once I'd been put on the defensive (which happens often in such situations), I conceded that cultural criticism is much more interesting than some expression about one's personal attachment. The way you personally connect with a song can make it a hundred times more meaningful than the way that piece of music fits into the larger picture, but it's much harder to articulate the personal connection to a wider audience in any sort of interesting way. So, sorry if this was boring for you, but really, what are blogs for, if not self-absorbed writing that only interests a few people. Hopefully, this little diatribe interested at least one person other than me.

Happy Birthday, Regan.

now playing: the Fiery Furnaces - Duplexes of the Dead

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5 Comments:

Frank Black is touring as "Black Francis" fyi (just so you don't get frustrated trying to find non-extant Frank Black tix on ticketmaster...)

By Anonymous Janice, at 10:10 AM  

the Cat Power cover of "We Dance" is probably the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. My personal connection to that song is with Chan's version.

Anyways, I liked this post a lot.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 PM  

Wed 11/14/07 M.I.A. Commodore Ballroom

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:04 PM  

Offtopic, but I think you (if you're attending) and your readers would like to know that The Flaming Lips is now at the Malkin Bowl. As much as I'd love to see this show (Black Moth Super Rainbow don't actually sound that bad), I wouldn't at the Malkin Bowl. Thank goodness a couple of days ago, I got scheduled for work on that evening..

By Anonymous Cy, at 11:13 PM  

Dude I just read this today and hey, cute, but whichever anonymous wanker wrote that comment about shitty Cat Power TOTALLY RUINED IT. Way to go, anonymous.

love,
Regan

PS I'm still right and I won that argument.

By Anonymous Regan, at 9:04 PM  

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writing by Quinn
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