Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

12 March, 2006

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

Okay, so this post is for myself and Patty Joe, since we both seem to have spent a good portion of the mid-1990s obsessing over Pavement's gem. If you haven't given this masterpiece (and it truly is a masterpiece) a spin, by all means, go out and find it (or borrow it from me). Twelve years later, and the album hasn't aged a day. I could still listen to it repeatedly and still find joy in the album's many nooks and crannies. (BTW - I need to borrow the 2004 re-issue from you, Mr. Hayden - the 0s and 1s on my original CD are slated to be burned off at any moment!)

I remember the day my friend Nathaniel ambled into my dorm room with his brand new copy. Okay, that may be a stretch - my memory of those four years in sunny Florida are addled by $8 cases of Natty Light, $30 quarters of just-off-the-boat Mexican schwag, and enough psychedelics to kill a horse - but hearing 2xCrooked Rain for the first time... wow. I'd been a big fan of the defiantly lo-fi and obtuse Slanted and Enchanted and had a small collection of their more esoteric singles (I'd kill to know what happened to my 7" of "Debris Slide," my favorite Pavement song ever - but I'd settle for borrowing someone's copy of Westing by Sextant and Musket), but I was completely unprepared for what I heard when Nathaniel slipped the new disc in and pressed play. "Silent Kit" began, a chaotic jumble of entangled hooks coalescing into a gloriously lush, if off-kilter, pop masterpiece that set the tone, both thematically and musically, for the rest of the album.

I remember the naysayers during that first listen, claiming that the album was too sloppy, too "off-key." Honestly, I've never heard something so sloppy or off-key sound so perfect. The supposed sloppiness was meticulous in its craftsmanship. Haters notwithstanding, I was instantly hooked.

I have so many memories of this album, which seemed just as appropriate a listening choice for playing hacky-sack in the anarchy circle on a brilliant afternoon as it did for late-night bong-rip sessions with Loafy. The sullen moodiness of "Stop Breathin'" could only be followed by the ebullient almost-hit-song pop of "Cut Your Hair." The last third of the album in particular, the warped country-rock of "Range Life," the late-night sway of "Heaven's a Truck," the disjointed and cranky "Hit the Plane Down," and the confused and desperate sounding "Fillmore Jive," seemed to be the perfect soundtrack to my finally figuring out who the hell I was (even if that sort of self-revelation is constantly unfolding as we speak).

It's amazing how many memories I have of this album. Road trips to NOLA with Nathaniel. The latter half of my sophomore year living with Costa. Late night driving shifts on Phish tour in 1996 and 1997. My first desperate, rainy winter in Eugene. This album pulled me through them all.

It's in every way a classic.


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