Gosh, we had no earthly idea what lay ahead of us, did we? All cosseted in the soft, flannel laundry pile that was the 1990s? And yet, in hindsight, to judge by the sound of the indie-rock 45s I bought at Earwax Records back in 1995, we sure were ... depressed! As SM had it, rattled by the rush. I guess that's not so much the exclusive domain of the 1990s as it is being in your twenties, but somehow the moody navel-gaze of the twenties and the moody navel-gaze of early 1990s America seemed to rhyme, as if you actually had to be 25 to fully understand the zeitgeist. Even before 9/11, we kind of sensed our generation was at the finale of something, not the beginning, which didn't do much for our sense of optimism. So much style and it's way-sted. Maybe that's why these Pavement and Palace 45s conjure a premature self-pity about something lost before it was ever found. They seem to rock and sulk, strut and shrug in equal measure, dropping non-sequiturs with the force of revelation, like they're the same thing. In a way, it only proves that even when we live in perfect peace, ignorant of world affairs, in a nation presided over by a relatively liberal leader, we can't escape the existential gloom of simply trying to grow up. With the distance of time, these songs still have a power. If nothing else, they remind me of that distant country I once lived in, the impossible shelter of youth, when all was adrift 'neath an imminent sky, waiting for something ...
Epee of My Heart 45" (Matador):
Rattled by the Rush - Pavement b/w:
False Skorpian - Pavement
Easily Fooled - Pavement
Father to a Sister of Thought 45" (Matador):
Father to a Sister of Thought - Pavement b/w
Kris Kraft - Pavement
Mussel Rock (is a horse in transition) - Pavement
Stable Will 45" (Drag City):
Stable Will - Palace Music b/w:
Horses - Palace Music
POSTSCRIPT: Did you know that Old Man Lefty was a pioneer in music pirating on the Internet? Not long after Al Gore invented it, I was working as an intern at Rolling Stone magazine, where, beside myself with joy, I procured a promo copy of Wowee Zowee two months before it was released in 1995 (on cassette tape!). As an early adopter of AOL, I frequented a message board of Pavement fans, to whom I offered dubs of the unreleased album for $5 a piece, plus shipping. As it turned out, the combined effort of buying blank tapes, dubbing copies, packaging them and mailing them at the post office was not even close to worth it, although I earned the undying love of my message board friends and was happy to fan the early buzz around the record. To this day, it's my favorite Pavement album, the only one I own on vinyl (double album). For my friends and I, it served as the official soundtrack to our tumultuous early days of struggle and rapture in New York, where we spent and misspent our formative adulthoods. What were you doing then?