Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Notes on Pavement in Central Park

I saw Pavement earlier tonight! Swear to God, it's true! My friend Ben had an extra ticket and I couldn't say no, so I went and heard a great band in great form. Songs included Summer Babe (rainstorm version), Cut Your Hair, Stereo, Shady Lane, Major Leagues, Gold Soundz 'n' Range Life (I once had to choose between buying one of those two seven-inches, and I think I was paralyzed for a good two minutes), and a whole lot of others. An epiphany came when Stephen Malkmus sang what I now think is one of the most prescient lyrics of the nineties: the transition from "A career" to "Korea" in Cut Your Hair. I've decided that it's just perfect, on so many levels. And here they are:

1. It clearly (Korealy?) expresses an inability to embrace the idea of building a traditional career.

2. Turning the sound of "career" into the sound of "Korea" is musically creative and semantically meaningful. It's like leaving business school for art school, or rejecting narrow-mindedness in favor of exploration.

3. How many English majors who couldn't choose a career have taught English in Korea?

4. Whether teaching English or just visiting, Korea may be an escape, for some people, from the pressure to build a career.

5. According to a Chinese woman I know from Singapore, I should "watch out for those Korean girls. They're crazy." According to my all my life experiences, they're crazy in a good way.

6. "It's all Korean to me": building a career, that is. (See No. 1)

I just think it's the most brilliant lyric. How many of us have thrown up our hands sometime in our twenties or thirties, and surrendered to Korea, instead of career? How many of us are still working on doing that? It's like James Murphy sang, about sixteen years after Cut Your Hair: "You spend five years trying to get on track, and the next five years trying to find your friends again." I wouldn't know, but Pavement seemed to have skipped the first part, and maybe that's why they got so good, so fast.

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