Certain Songs #882: Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimping”

Album: b’lieve i’m goin down…
Year: 2015

Because he’s been remarkably consistent since he left The War on Drugs to go out on his own nearly a decade ago, it was hard for me to pick a Kurt Vile song to write about.

So figure a lot of what I write about “Pretty Pimpin” could also be said about “Ghost Town,” “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” or “KV Crimes,” any of which I could have easily written about, and all of which share the things I like about Vile’s music.

Which is this: a nearly-psychedelic (more weed than acid) blend of electric and acoustic guitars whirling around each other over a groove that neither falters nor breaks a sweat. In the case of “Pretty Pimpin” they’re surrounding slightly surreal lyrics.

I woke up this morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said,
“Oh silly me, that’s just me”
Then I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth
But they were my teeth, and I was weightless

As “Pretty Pimpin” progresses, there are subtle touches of organ, extra percussion, maybe even a stray synth, as well as a high-pitched backing vocals all supporting Vile’s lyrics about his disassociation from himself.

But I couldn’t tell you what the hell
It was supposed to mean
Cause it was a Monday, no, a Tuesday
No, a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Then Saturday came around and I said
“Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”
But he was sporting all my clothes
I gotta say, pretty pimpin’

The joke at the end of that verse — “Pretty Pimpin” doesn’t really have an obvious chorus — is a pretty great humblebrag, but you might not even notice it because if you’re still thinking about how he shifts up his singing as he clocks all of the days of the week, you’re counting all of the guitars he’s suddenly added.

And so it goes with Vile’s best songs: there’s always some other detail that you’ve missed that suddenly jumps to the top of your consciousness.

Official video for “Pretty Pimpin”

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