Okay, okay, okay. No, I don’t. The problem, of course, is that I don’t hate it so very much. So someone sends me a link to it and that link leads me somewhere else and pretty soon three hours have gone by, hours which were supposed to be spent writing about scar removal techniques. (Don’t ask.)
Anyhoo, I think I’ve heard five different arrangements of this Joe Jackson chestnut now and you know what? They all work. Arsenio? Not so much. I hope he invested well.
Here’s a good Nirvana clip that becomes great if you know a little bit about it. First of all, the band wanted to play a new song on the show, “Rape Me,” but MTV wouldn’t let them and instead insisted they play one of their older hits. So they did…but not before Kurt began the new song. The producers were reaching for the button to cut him off when the band kicked into “Lithium.” Check out the amazing Dave Grohl—when they cut to him, around the one minute mark, seriously, doesn’t he look about as much like Animal from the Muppet Show as a human can? The other things to watch out for are towards the end. Around four minutes in, Krist Novoselic throws his bass up in the air …and is unable to catch it. It slams into his forehead and drives him to the ground. He manages to get up but can only stagger offstage. Kurt and Dave don’t even seem to notice and keep on playing, until destruction ensues and Dave picks up Krist’s bass and starts really tossing it around (but not straight up). Finally, Kurt dives into the drum kit and Dave starts yelling “Hi Axl! Hi Axl!” over and over, taunting the Guns n’ Roses frontman who’d tried to pick a fight earlier backstage. Rock and roll, baby. Or maybe high school.
Here’s Dinosaur Jr performing one of their best songs, “Out There.” It’s not a very good rendition, unfortunately, with J Mascis’ vocals at the beginning really awful even by his standards. I still love it, of course. Why include it then? Because of where they’re playing—on the Jenny Jones show. And that’s just too wonderful for words. Making it even better is that the ever so hot Jenny gets the title wrong. Which is actually kind of impressive. As is J Mascis’s guitar playing. With the exception of Eric Clapton, I think he may just be my favorite guitarist ever. I do wish they show hadn’t ended before they got the bridge, which is the prettiest part of the entire thing.
A trio of Sonic Youth songs—”The Empty Page,” “Sunday” and my favorite of the three, “The Diamond Sea.” I offer these because some doesn’t understand what I see in SY. What I see, or rather hear, when I listen to these songs is incredible beauty. Seriously.
And speaking of that, here’s some more conventional beauty. This R.E.M. clip is from their first ever television appearance, on the David Letterman show. They’d already played their single, and this was their second song, so Dave’s interviewing them a bit and they explain that it’s so new it doesn’t even have a name. And right before they play it, Michael Stipe suddenly pops up out of nowhere—he was too shy at the time to be interviewed, so Peter Buck and Mike Mills do all the talking. You don’t even notice him and yet there he is. And what a gorgeous song.
As is this, from about a dozen or so years later. So gorgeous it takes your breath away. Stipe and Mills are barely recognizable, and the sound is similarly different. But the beauty remains.
Seeing how the bands change as they age is kinda cool, so here’re two from Pearl Jam—”Alive” and “Betterman“—from the same festival eight years apart. Even though everyone in the band is the same—except of course for the drummer—they’re barely recognizable. Eddie Vedder wears a t-shirt with Tivoli on it both times and I wonder what the significance of that is. Jeff Ament, the bassist, wears a similar shirt as well, but then he always wears those hideous things.
And finally, for all you poor beleaguered souls who’ve not been converted to the majesty and the glory that is the Replacements, I offer this gem. It’s from their first and only Saturday Night Live performance. Apparently, the cast hated them, and it shows during the closing credits, where no one will stand near them. The clip is almost ridiculously perfect in how well it captures why they never made it. They start off with ferocity, but you can almost see exactly where Paul Westerberg gets bored or perhaps fatalistic—during the second chorus he simply walks away from the microphone in the middle of a line. He comes back but then throws in the towel again, dropping an f-bomb almost but not quite entirely off-mic. Tommy Stinson, the bassist, keeps up the energy the whole time—perhaps being only 19 at the time and six years younger than the rest of the band helped—but it’s not quite enough to save it. And the fact that they were a truly unattractive band didn’t help, nor did the ridiculous get-ups worn by drummer Chris Mars and guitarist Bob Stinson. Everyone but Bob switched clothes for the second song—apparently his was just too damn ugly for even the others to wear. And with that band that’s saying something. Just a few years ahead of their time. Dammit.
UPDATE: The Nirvana link has now been fixed–thanks, Molly!