Category: The Daily Loper

Certain Songs #766: The Jesus and Mary Chain – “My Little Underground”

Album: Psychocandy
Year: 1985

Ahh. “My Little Underground.” For 30 years, it’s been my second-favorite song on Psychocandy, just a skosh behind the song I’m posting about tomorrow, “Something’s Wrong.”

But, just as I realized that the one song I needed to see at the Replacements reunion was “Left of the Dial” and not the-song-I’ve-said-was-my-favorite-song-by-anyone-ever-for-years-and-years “Answering Machine,” as I started doing the run-up to writing about the songs on Psychocandy, I realized that “My Little Underground” might be my favorite song on it. Because it’s perfect. Just fucking perfect.

One of the criticisms of Psychocandy back in the day was that it was “too calculated.” Which, I get sorta. Part of our indie aesthetic was that a lot of the artists just walked into the studio and recorded their songs, and whatever came out, came out. Hi, we’re The Replacements, and this song was written 20 minutes after it was recorded. The ethos was that if you worked on your music too much, that made you no different than Journey or Foreigner or Boston.

So while Sonic Youth would walk into a studio with their weird tunings and songs that had little or no structure and what came out was unique and special to that moment of recording, Psychocandy clearly had a whole helluva lot of thought behind every single layer of fuzz being applied to each song.

Sure. And while normally I tilt to the “just let it happen” school of thought, when the results of the everything in its right place approach as stunning as “My Little Underground,” who cares how calculated it is?

A paean to introversion, “My Little Underground” starts with William Reid’s guitar set to phaser, and a second after Bobby Gillespie starts racing with his floor toms and snare, Jim Reid is right with him getting the hell out of wherever he is to where he wants to be.

Running away
I got something to say
You’re in my way
So goodbye yesterday

I’m gonna run and find
A place where I can hide
Somewhere that no one knows
Someplace that no one goes
So don’t you look for me
I’ll be where you can’t see
Somewhere I can’t be found
My little underground

Ahh ahh ahh

One of the great things about “My Little Underground” is how it’s always outrunning itself, it’s all forward momentum, even as the lyrics are all about being by yourself. And being happy about being by yourself.

We all have the place, don’t we? Or is it just us introverts? It doesn’t matter whether or not we have a partner or are flying solo, there is still that place where we can just go and read or listen to music or not have to deal with anybody else for a while.

That’s what “My Little Underground” is about. It would be great enough, and then they glide into the bridge:

Sun shines so high
Bright in the sky
Sun shines so
Sun shines so
Sun shines so high above

And as Jim Reid sings about the sun, William Reid’s guitar is the sun, shining bright, shining hard, shining high and most of all shining loud, covering all of the planet with big beautiful rays that are just too much for anybody to stay in for too long, and will blind you if you look into its eyes, even though damn straight that’s where the fun is.

And then the sun sets all around the world at once and even Jim Reid isn’t sure where his head is at.

And I can’t
Can’t understand it
Don’t know why
Don’t know why

Just can’t
Can’t understand it
Don’t know why
Don’t know why

And it’s cold outside
Doesn’t work out right

That last minute of “My Little Underground” is one of my favorite minutes of music by anybody ever: equal parts beauty, mystery, noise, power and love. Everything I want from music all wrapped up into a moment in time that I will never quite fully understand, or if I did ever understand it, I would never ever fully recover from. Could be either. Could be both, I don’t even know anymore.

All I know is that when William Reid’s guitar spins around the world just before “can’t understand it” part, it also spins around my soul.

“My Little Underground”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The Daily Loper – Dec 17, 2010

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The Daily Loper – Aug 30, 2010

Today’s links of interest: