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Posted Apr 27th, 2010 (11:45 am) by Tim Gilman

Welcome to My Year in Lists, Inyourspeakers' weekly feature consisting of slightly off-kilter lists.

With the Pavement reunion tour in full swing and the dormant hype surrounding the band once again active, it's only fair for the uninitiated to wonder why Pavement is such a big deal. It can difficult to put a finger on why the band is so appealing musically, but lyrically the reason is simple: Pavement's lyrics (the majority of which are written by Stephen Malkmus) are creative and ripe with imagery. Songs like “Grounded” and “Shady Lane” are equal parts specific and moving, using unappealing characters (a doctor obsessed with status, a deadbeat date) to convey raw emotions. However, as with any creative approach, not every lyric sticks – some have a tendency to meander, while others are flat-out nonsensical. With that said, here are ten of the strangest and most absurd Pavement lyrics, in no specific order.

"And I'm asking you to hold me
Just like the morning paper
Pinched between your pointer
Your index and your thumb"

This seems like an awkward, unrealistic way to hold a full-grown person. Maybe this verse is written from the Indian in the cupboard's point of view. Also, the pointer and index are the same finger, dude. Just sayin'.

"Architecture students are like virgins with an itch they cannot scratch,
Never build a building till you're 50, what kind of life is that?"

After the release of Terror Twilight, hip architecture students around the country taped pictures of Stephen Malkmus to their dartboards. That's a documented fact. Pay more attention in your Contemporary US History class, kids.

"What about the voice of Geddy Lee
How did it get so high?
I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?
'I know him and he does!'
And you're my fact-checkin' cuz"

'Fact-checkin' Cuz' would be an awesome superhero. Feel free to show your support for the comic book and/or the ensuing movie adaptation in the comments section.

"Pick out some Brazilian nuts for your engagement
Check that expiration date, man: it's later than you think"

It's strange for someone to warn a friend that an expiration date is later than you think. Hypothetical situation that would (probably) never happen:

Scene: Sunday afternoon. Tim Gilman wanders to the refrigerator to grab a snack, Stephen Malkmus sits at the kitchen table doing a Sudoku.
Tim: (out loud, to self) “I'm really craving some yogurt right now. Good thing I have some in the fridge!”
Stephen: “Check that expiration date, man. It's later than you think!”
Tim: “Oh okay, then I will definitely eat the hell out of this yogurt, just like I planned to do anyway. But thanks!”

Also, Brazilian nuts apparently have 1,000 times more radioactive radium than any other food. This fact has nothing to do with Pavement, I just thought it was interesting. Go tell this to people at parties.

"The language of influence is cluttered with hard hard C's
And I put a spy-cam in a sorority
Darlings on the split-screen"

Songs from Brighten the Corners make the most appearances on this list because, let's be honest, it was lyrically the craziest Pavement album. This lyric wins a place on the list solely for its amazing non-sequitur. It would also be the creepiest Pavement lyric if it weren't for...

"Hey little boy, would you like to know
what's in my pocket or not
It's no ploy, it's no gimmick,
It's the chance of a lifetime to see
something that's never seen by mere mortals"

There's not much that can be said about this lyric besides, well, GROSS. But it's also sort of confusing. Something that's never seen by mere mortals? Are we supposed to infer that Stephen Malkmus is immortal or hangs out with a crowd of deities? This seems highly unlikely.

"A voice coach taught me to sing, he couldn't teach me to love"

No offense Stephen, but I think you might be getting ahead of yourself there.

"Heaven is a truck
It got stuck
On the breeze!"

Trucks are pretty heavy, right? I mean, last time I checked, trucks were pretty heavy. That ain't no breeze, Malk.

"She's got the radioactive
And it makes me feel okay
I don't feel okay"

Stephen Malkmus might not be the best singer in the world, but he has a knack for inflecting his voice in such a way that gives even the most mundane lyrics more meaning. I was easily fooled by the chorus of “Perfume-V” until finally reading it written down. In the hands of a band like Kings of Leon, these lyrics would sound ridiculous. The first line makes no grammatical sense (You can't have radioactive, it's an adjective! WHERE IS THE OBJECT?!) and the last two are obviously contradictory. Oh Stephen, how you toy with us.

This song, Pavement's ode to R.E.M., probably has the most ridiculous lyrics ever. I mean, one verse is just Malkmus singing the names of songs on Reckoning! Then there's this stanza:

"The singer, he had long hair
And the drummer, he knew restraint
And the bassman, he had all the right moves
And that guitar player was no saint"

Obviously R.E.M.'s rhythm section gets appropriate love, but Peter Buck and Michael Stipe get none of it. Unless that last line means that only sinners are good guitar players, but that's probably not an objective truth. And regarding Stipe, I guess saying “the singer, he had long hair” is better than saying “the singer, he sang real well,” but not by much.

The most ridiculous thing of all is that Stephen Malkmus (who wrote all the above Pavement songs – Spiral Stairs' lyrics are pretty tame in comparison) can pull off lyrics like this without getting egg on his face. Some of these songs are my personal favorite Pavement songs. Well done, dude. Well done.

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