Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brighten the Corners

So, I joined this group on Facebook where members write about a memory stirred up whenever they hear a particular song. Some body's going to turn it into a book or something. I haven't posted anything.

I haven't posted anything because individual songs rarely, if ever, trigger many memories for me. I need a whole album to stimulate my consciousness. A song is too fle
eting and may be tied to too many experiences. An album takes an hour of your life every time you play it. Those chunks of time either occur during very important moments of your life or when you want to spend some time reflecting on such moments.

Today, such an album arrived in the mail.

Actually, it was a re-issue of an old favorite. As Pavement have done with the band's first three albums, they released the re-issue Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. And if you know me at all, you know I sort of like Pavement.

BTC is not even close to my favorite Pavement album. (That title regularly rotates between Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain as if I was a kindergartner picking up and dumping friends on a daily basis.) But, my fourth-favorite Pavement long-player is better than most albums in my mind. Besides, the record was released at a key point in my life.

The album was released on my birthday eleven years ago. It was my last semester as an undergrad. My girlfriend for most of those college years dumped me the previous New Year's Eve. I was preparing to leave Ohio for the Pacific Northwest for what I thought was forever, but it turned out to be less than three months. And I was afraid of what was going to happen after graduation.

I clung to the dissolution on SM's tongue. I hollered with Nasty. I recited l
yrics with a student about her brother, Geddy Lee (not the Geddy Lee - their folks were big Rush fans). I wore my concert t-shirt featuring the skeleton escorting the lady from the album cover to my last day of student-teaching. I appreciated Spiral Stairs for once and only once. This was definitely the album of that moment for me.

This was the first Pavement album that was accompanied with a lyric sheet. Up until then, most Pavement lyrics were up for open debate and great skepticism. BTC was different. I spent hours studying those lyrics. It's probably why I can recite lyrics from this album like no other.

Used Kids had one of those commissioned street signs for the release of the album.

I saw the band twice in the support of BTC that year. I saw them at the Newport in Columbus. SM kept repeating "Stachies" over and over, referring to the club Staches where they had played five or six years before. At one point, SM stopped a song and proceeded to demonstrate to Steve West how the drum part should be played. Apparenly, Westie can't drum.

The second time I saw Pavement supporting the album was at the Odeon i
n Cleveland the following fall. Nothing super-memorable happened that night. Strangely, R and I bought a concert poster in Chicago a couple of years back which advertised the show.


I don't know what all these things have to do with each other, except that they all happened in 1997 when Brighten the Corners was originally released. This album will forever remind me of that year. It shaped many of the year's experiences as well as framed the others.

So, with the release of
Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed., I feel another year older, but I can remember those days between my college life and my adult one fondly. Thank you Pavement for being there and for creating my soundtrack for 1997.

1 comment:

Devin said...

Dig it, it's like a nice ride through thoughts and history. Particularly relevant for me because we were in the same place then.