The only reason to get Mike Watt’s very first solo album, “Ball-Hog or Tugboat” was because his name had popped up on Sonic Youth’s ‘Whitey Album’ (and others). If I remember correctly, I wasn’t overly impressed with Watt’s album: It features a whole pot stew of musicians (Sonic Youth, Eddie Vedder) except for the onions. What. Huh.
From that album, the only interesting song is ‘Against the 70’s’ (30+ second sample), which features Eddie Vedder on the vocals and the onions. The only thing I can say about the song is that to this day, I have no idea what Vedder is singing about. However, for some kind of reason, I find the song amusing in the light of the the current US corporate mess: a CEO invokes the 5th amendment in a tainted peanut scandal that killed at least 9 people and the current banking crisis.
What’s more to say?
1 I used a generic album sleeve: I was kind of surprised to see the actual song appear on a Pearl Jam collector
I was watching that story unfold about that 700 billion dollars bail-out, and I was just thinking, hey, maybe all they need is a washing machine.
I saw the political theatre of American presidential elections where a presidential candidate suddenly presented himself as a champion of “Main Street”, and I thought, hey, maybe all he used was a washing machine.
I read that the US president had been talking to the French president about the financial problems, and for a second I thought that maybe, they both really needed a washing machine. Or rather a freedom machine.
And, then I ended up looking at this excellent YouTube video of a live performance of Sonic Youth’s ‘Washing Machine’. For a second, it reminded me of that concert I attended in the early 90s and I thought by myself, what one can do with cloth pins.
So yeah, I’ve been a Sonic Youth (official site) listener for the longest time, which I’ve mentioned here from the very start. I’ve been planning to add a sound fragment to this category, but every time I end up doubting which song to pick from. I decided to go with Schizophrenia (30+ second long sound sample): I thought ‘Bull in the heather’ was a bit too easy (that’s Kathleen Hanna doing some weirdo dance in that clip) and ‘Expressway to Your Skull’ a bit too hard to cut through. I was tempted to use the latter, only because (and Sonic Youth fans probably remember) the song was originally titled ‘Sean, Madonna and Me’. The band members had some kind of obsession with Madonna: In the early eighties, the band released the Whitey Album under name ‘Ciccione Youth’, which some of you may remember as Madonna’s original last name (For a second I thought ‘Youth against racism’ was part of the album too, which it isn’t).
What can I say about the band what you don’t know already? Most of the info on Wikipedia seems to be the similar of what I remember out of my head: I remember reading a booklet on Sonic Youth (which was part of a collector edition) which had a lengthy discussion on the band’s split with their record company SST (Husker Du et al). The band has been called the most ‘intelligent’ guitar band of our time and that only because of their weird guitar tunings and musical experiments: I did indeed attend one of their concerts in The Netherlands. I recall drills being hauled on stage. I can’t remember what that was all about, but it was amusing. Not to everybody’s liking, I guess and probably not really an event to take your girlfriend to (that is unless she’s a fan too). Also, if you’re familiar with Hal Hartley, Sonic Youth’s music was heavily featured in his movie ‘Simple Men’ (“I can’t stand the quiet”), with Elina Lowensohn dancing on ‘Kool Thing’. Which is a kind of cool, if you’re into Hal Hartley movies.
There are plenty of videos of live performances of ‘Schizophrenia’ on YouTube, my favourite one being the one recorded at the Montreal Jazz festival. The song was (surprisingly) also covered by the UK senior choir ‘Young@Heart': I remember watching the video on YouTube and wasn’t sure what to think of it at that time. Too bad it was removed, earlier this year.