This past month, I've been making my way through the Pitchfork 500, which was Pitchfork's list of the best songs from 1977 up until 2008 (when the list was released). To date I've really only got through the 1977-1979 and 1984-1986 segements of the list. There were a lot of old disco tracks, a lot of early electronic music, a lot of early hiphop, and these gems:
1. Street Hassle - Lou Reed
I feel like I should have discovered this track by the Louster earlier - it's one of his best and most definitive. It clocks in at over 11 minutes but never gets tried, as it's split into three distinct sections. Section 1 is about a woman picking up a male prostitute (very Lou Reed). Section 2 is where the woman's dead from drugs, and the dealer is telling the prostitute he has to get the woman out (ultra Lou Reed). Section 3 is about nothing in particular, but it sounds beautiful and wraps up the suite nicely. Bruce Springsteen has a very cool guest spot as well.
2. Outdoor Miner - Wire
You'll see most of my picks for this month are real downers, but this is a sweet little tune, which at least one person thinks is 'an abstract interpretation of the experiences of a kind of inchworm known as the serpentine miner'. Well, that sounds arty enough for Wire to be true. For a band that did a lot of arty stuff though, they also put out a bunch of classic pop tunes.
3. Pink Turns To Blue - Husker Du
Husker Du's 'Zen Arcade' is meant to be essentially a concept album about a boy going out in the world and finding out how shit everything is. And this song is about the most shitkicking, gut-wrenching of them all; you can pretty much guess what pink turning to blue refers to (hint: think 'Street Hassle' above), but what makes it worse is that this girl seems like she was the only good thing in this world to our narrator. The melody isn't depressing though - it's as catchy as hell.
4. Kerosene - Big Black
I vaguely remembered that Steve Albini was the producer of Nirvana's 'In Utero' but I didn't know that he had his own band called Big Black. Remember those brutal, bleeding tracks on 'In Utero' like 'Scentless Apprentice' and 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter'? This was kind of the antecedent to them. Albini's lyrics aren't necessarily subtle, but he is clever in the way he builds his narrative, as you gradually realise just how horrifying it is.
5. Primitive Painters - Felt
This is one of those songs that feels like it was the soundtrack to every mid-'80s movie, but it wasn't actually on the soundtrack to any of them. (I know. I checked to see where it was from.) It's very much like the Cocteau Twins in that Robin Guthrie produced it, and his bandmate Elizabeth Fraser sang backing vocals, and you can't understand a single lyric. But it would still be suitably atmospheric even without those touches.