Sunday, June 1, 2014

DB's Song of the Day (day 152): "BURY ME WITH IT" (2004) Modest Mouse

OK, so I really am at the shore in Maryland, bravely trying to keep up posts of a song a day, even as we pass the 150 mark and start a new month—June!—and even though (you’d think) going on a computer and writing and posting would be something I might conceivably want a break from. No matter. And today’s song is in the spirit of “when the party’s over,” so why not slap it on here?

What’s more, one of the things I like doing best at the beach is long solitary walks with my iPod; well, it used to be, once upon a time, walks, period. Then walks with a Walkman. Now it’s iPod. And what has been on the iPod so far are playlists from tapes I made a friend who then kindly digitized them so I could stick them on this device and walk about with them. And one of the songs I’ve heard recently, by someone I haven’t already posted about, that jumped out at me was “Bury Me With It,” from Modest Mouse’s 2004 release Good News for People Who Love Bad News—which happens to be one of the recurring lines on today’s song.

But even more recurring is the title, shouted at the top of Isaac Brock’s lungs. He runs through a litany of end-games, so to speak, and each time beseeches us (or someone) to bury him with it. First off, it seems his free time’s gone, then it’s the planet, then it’s a suit that’s getting threadbare, then it’s a party that’s over, then it seems that the bad news has pretty much done away with any good news—except of course that bad news is good news for people who love bad news, in a manner of speaking.

And in a manner of speaking, the cry to be buried with something one once valued is a way of saying “I’m taking it with me when I go,” and, more to the point, if it’s gone, you might as well bury me.  Like: there’s nothing to live for. Quieter moments in the song tell us that we’re hummingbirds who refuse to move and that we’ve lost the plot. We’re fucked, in other words.

Then there’s the part about fads that come and go (like rock itself) and getting but poorly compensated for one's work or suffering or synching the sitch.

This was only the second Modest Mouse LP I’d bought, I think, though it was their fourth. Or put it this way: the first one I heard was the third, The Moon and Antarctica (2000) which I came to love around then—or maybe more like 2001. Then I did hear the previous two albums but not with anything like full attention, for some reason. Then along came their latest and I liked it a lot too. On the first two albums Brock seems more plaintive and more in the line of those tremulous vocalists like Jeff Tweedy. On the third and fourth he gets rather more truculent, as on this song. And there’s a bigger sound at work on this album particularly, with banjo and ukulele, mellotron, Rhodes, loops, and all kinds of things, even horns here and there.  I know there are those who are loyal to the earlier MM and lost interest when they went “big label.” But, as is typical, I came in when they showed they had the staying power to produce big production albums like the 3rd and 4th. And We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007), which included Johnny Marr, was my album of that summer, 2007, road-tripping and what not—maybe I’ll post about a song from that another time.

The tapes I’ve been listening to date from the summer of 2004, and so MM’s 4th album and this song were as current as anything, and that irritable vocal—“just don’t need none of that Mad Max bullshit”—was like a jolt to the solar plexus, or something. It was the sort of sentiment that sat well with those glorious W. years when things pretty much sucked—“we moved to the left and we moved to the right / And sure as hell we stayed out almost every single night”—as we party on. To say nothing of the sense, in my own private world, that whatever “it” was, it was getting to be like that threadbare suit, the one you want to be buried in because, hell, it suited you when you were in your prime. In 2004, I turned 45, just saying.

And God I love that rock’n’roll.  That was said both with and without irony, by me. Because rock and roll was going, going, gone as a real force, even within the world of pop culture. “But we kept it out of habit.” Yeah, something like that. Maybe I’ll be buried with my tape collection . . . .

Day 152

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