To this day, I don’t know if seeing The Jesus and Mary Chain play live just a couple of months after Psychocandy came out helped or hurt my love of the album.
After all, we already knew that part of their shtick at the time was to play incredibly short, auto-destruct sets, and so — unlike, say, seeing R.E.M. on the Pagentry tour, which was just a few months later — heading up to to San Francisco to see The Jesus and Mary Chain probably wasn’t going to deepen my understanding of Psychocandy, which was clearly a studio creation anyways.
No, the real reason that Cindy & I drove up to see them (and of course, turned around and drove back home right after the show, because at 23, that was the easiest thing in the world for me to do) was because seeing The Jesus and Mary Chain on their first U.S. tour felt like something that we could still be bragging about decades later.
Which, yeah. Though I was kinda saddened to find out when I just recently read a bio of The Jesus And Mary Chain that Bobby Gillespie left the band just prior to that tour, which I guess, diminishes the bragging rights.
However, I did get an paper out of it for my English class!
I never thought that this day would ever come
When your words and your touch just struck me numb
Oh, and it’s plain to see that it’s dead
The thing swims in blood and it’s cold stony dead
A song that would be my favorite on just about any normal record, “The Hardest Walk” has a little bit of everything that makes Psychocandy great. It’s incredibly catchy, natch, but it doesn’t really have a conventional verse-chorus-verse structure, either.
It’s so hard not to feel ashamed
Of the loving living games we play
Instead, it ebbs and flows, anchoring itself to a huge rhythm guitar, rumbling bass and a snare drum that you can actually hear. “The Hardest Walk” is all about the little moments: the vocals starting slightly before the rest of the song, the simple but pretty guitar solo and of course, Jim Reid’s straining to the top of his range has he wonders:
Oh, is it me
Is it me that feels so weak
I cannot deceive but I find it hard to speak
And best of all is the fab stinging layer of William’s guitar that serves as erzatz vocal harmonies for his brother as Jim confesses his weakness, but then floats away just in time for Jim to start walking away, no matter how difficult.
The hardest walk you could ever take
Is the walk you take from A to B to C
After that, “The Hardest Walk” breaks to just bass and drums as he actually starts walking away, and then, naturally piles back on as he turns around and lies that he never wanted her to want him anyways.
To me, “The Hardest Walk” is pure pop perfection, using the feedback mostly as color, and never as a distraction, but still noisy enough to drive away anybody who didn’t like big loud guitars.
“The Hardest Walk”
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