Sunday, September 26, 2010

Angsty Autumn

I've been in a really odd I'm-an angry-19-year-old mood the past few weeks. Maybe it's due to the autumn weather or something. Of course it's obvious that I'm a bit late for the whole angsty teen thing, I mean I do know that. It's possible that it could be due to the fact that I have a mere 5 months of teenagerdom. It could well be a subconscious retaliation on my inevitable aging, whatever, I'll spare everyone the details of my abnormal anxieties. So here's Steph Funk's list of Autumny, angsty, angry and plain old fashioned depressing as fuck songs from the 80's and 90's. These songs have made us rage in our underwear, they've made us draw big angry black abyss circles in our teenage diary's, they have even lead us to curling up in the fetal position on our Ikea beds. I want to share them with you, god knows why... and tell you a little bit about what makes them great and super depressing.

Teenage Riot -Sonic Youth

Song:   Teenage Riot
Band:   Sonic Youth
Album: Daydream Nation (1988)

It was definitely tough to choose from which dirty, distorted Sonic Youth number to pick. Teenage Riot is kind of an odd song for Sonic Youth. It's pretty clean in comparison to their other songs. Particularly stuff on their earlier albums. But it's still got a grunged up punk feel to it. Personally I love Goo and Dirty boots, both of which are kind of "fuck you" songs. However I think even the slightly cleaner guitar and vocals in Teenage Riot definitely do something to me, boil my blood or get me all riled up. If I listen to it on the way to college I get really pumped. I don't know about what really. Hearing Kim Gordon say "Say it don't spray it" and "We will fall", which is a reference to rock/punk legends The Stooges, another favourite band of mine, it's just brilliant. The introduction, her spoken word bit makes the song in my eyes. Or ears.
I don't know what the song is about. I've listened to it and kind of made my own interpretations in the past, after a little research I found out that I was way off. Byron Coley apparently said that it's based on a the band appointing J Mascis as their "de facto alternative dream president". Which is kind of weird.
Even though this lyric is more than likely something to do with J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), "Teenage riot in a public station, gonna fight tear it up in hypernation for you." That doesn't mean that I won't enjoy the messed up beauty of the song anyway.

Today -Smashing Pumpkins

Song:  Today
Band:  Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Siamese Dream (1993)

Today is depressing because despite what you might think on hearing and not listening the lyrics seem pretty upbeat, right? It's playing and you're singing along "Today is the greatest, day I've ever known." That's all lovely, Billy Corgan, the song writer, is having a lovely old time. In the video he's having a great time in that run away ice-cream truck. Then the song continues, "Can't live for tomorrow, tomorrow's much too long. I'll burn my eyes out, before I get out." After a few minutes of lyrics about regret and self mutilation in the form of pink ribbon scars you realise that the only reason Billy thought that today was beautiful is because it's his last. And it clicks that even with that cool little guitar riff the song is about suicide. He thinks that tomorrow's a waste of time. He reckons he's bruised and restrained and needs some angel wings to cleanse his regrets. So there you go a song about suicide that I saw on somebody's blog (not going to name names) in a "My favourite Summer songs post". That poor girl, fooled by Corgan's lyrical trickery that make us think it might be a happy enough tune.
In Guitar World 1995 Corgan said "When I added the opening riff, it completely changed the character of the song. Suddenly, I had a song that was starting out quiet and then got very loud" Good thinking Billy you bald bastard, you had us all fooled.

Disorder -Joy Division

Song:   Disorder
Band:   Joy Division
Album: Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Disorder is great for so many reasons. It goes something like this: drum beat for a few seconds, excellent bass riff kicks in, a little distorted guitar kicks in for another few seconds. Just when you thought the song was brilliant enough and it couldn't get any better than the melody you're hearing Ian Muthafuckin Curtis begins to sing. His trademark voice, deep and sad. The lyrics are brilliant, like most of Joy Division's songs they tell a story. Ian Curtis was certainly a man with a story to tell. He tells his own story most of the time. A socially awkward man who doesn't know how to deal with people or relationships. "I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand. Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?" This kind of tells us that he doesn't believe he feels what other people do, that he doesn't get the same pleasures out of living or whatever.
It was no secret that he had to deal with epilepsy and he had a fit at a gig or two. Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980, suffering with depression and the curse of a brilliant, poetic mind. The song could be about a lot of things, there were a lot of things going on in Curtis's life. Personally I reckon it might be about generally being defective and the chaos that comes with epilepsy. Basically the song is about disorder and I think everyone can relate to that. Anyway, here's some lyrics from the song. Some of my favourite lyrics ever:
"It's getting faster, moving faster now, it's getting out of hand. On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, it's a no man's land. Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now. I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow"

Story of an Artist -Daniel Johnston

Song:   Story of an Artist
Band:   Daniel D. Johnston
Album: Don't Be Scared Cassette (1985)

First off, this video is really cool. There is no official video for the song so this has been made by someone in youtube land with footage from the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Which is all kinds of awesome and is responsible for my personal discovery of this man and his music. There's a lot of sadness in this song. Daniel Johnston suffers with bi-polar disorder, which has been a problem throughout his life. For those of you who don't know, he's the guy who shoved an old woman out a window.
Daniel Johnston despite his illness, is a lyrical genius. He's a big fat man who is sad and lost and writes beautiful lyrics. He has an incredible and very unusual voice. The song, despite it's quiet, slow piano and strange vocals is another classic "fuck you" song. It's basically saying to all those people who don't take him or artists in general seriously, you know shut up, you don't get it. One of the first lyrics you hear is "Some would try for fame and glory, others aren't so bold." Which makes you a little sad for him and maybe it reflects on a small part of yourself. People are judging him which also relates to you in some way. "Why are you so odd?" They ask. Then he goes on to explain how the best things in life are free and he says to all the haters; "You've got me wrong, says he. The sun don't shine in your TV." and you realise that he's kind of just doing what he loves despite what everyone else thinks. And even though Daniel D Johnston isn't a grunger or a punk, the spirit is there, that free spirit. The lyrics from the begging of the song are altered slightly for the last line; "Listen up and I'll tell a story
About an artist growing old. Some would try for fame and glory. Others just like to watch the world."
It's a happy song in a way, a kind of follow your heart song but it's sad too. It's sad that people judge and nobody understands him or you or whoever listens to the song and is reminded of themselves. It kind of does the opposite of Smashing Pumpkins Today, you think it's full of sorrow but then bam, he's fine with it.

The Stooges -I Wanna Be Your Dog

Song:    I Wanna Be Your Dog
Band:   The Stooges
Album: The Stooges (1969)

I love this song. It came out in 1969 and it sounds like something from the 1980's. It's rough, it's heavy and I love it. The key elements of the song are the very simple 3 chord guitar riff, Iggy's spectacular voice and the chilling sound of one piano note being pounded throughout the song. The song is probably one of The Stooges best known. It's simple, short and has no particularly memorable lyrics yet it's been covered by some of the greatest artists on the past few decades. The long list includes Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Slayer, RCHP and Sonic Youth.
Even though the lyrics are kind of left to be interpreted by the listener they can really only be about two things;
The obvious, raw sex. Which is what is insinuated in these lyrics; "So messed up, I want you here. In my room, I want you here. Now we're gonna be face to face and I lay right down in my favorite place." Some have even suggested that this part is about his desire to have sex with another dude. Whatever it was it was definitely some kind of sex.
There's also a more symbolic way of interpreting the lyrics. There is certainly a sense of self hatred that can be picked up by the key lyrics. "And now I wanna be your dog." This could be symbolic of Iggy's submission and his sense of self worth at the time of writing.
Despite the questionable lyrics and very simple song construction it is one of the greatest songs in rock and punk history. I can't really say much else about this song other than it fucking rocks.

1 comment:

  1. Great piece, really love this song, & 1969 aswell.