September 8, 2011

uppers or downers
either way blood flows

Timothy Cummings, House of Cards, 2008

* Dean Wareham interviews Stephen Malkmus. excerpt:

Warham; It seems like part of being a producer is just spreading good cheer and good energy. I don’t suppose Beck had ideas for your lyrics? I think he’s a great lyricist, too.

Malkmus: He likes it real loose. He had the mics set up so I could keep anything I said on the tapes. The free, off-the-top-of-my-head stuff -- he was really going for that. Some of the words wouldn’t be maybe the best in my mind, but they flowed with the track and the spirit of it. I think he was going on his own experience. You know how it is, where you do the track and then take a week off, and say, "OK, I’ll do the lyrics now." They start to sound forced or it's not flowing. Maybe it’s a good point you’re making or it’s clever, but it sounds like it’s sticking out.

Wareham: I don’t think you know until you stand there and sing it. You can write it on the page, but the moment you stand there and sing it -- sometimes you just go, "I can’t sing that! This is ridiculous!"

Malkmus: (laughs) I know! I’m totally open to people. I’m not precious about the words. I want people to like it. I don’t really need to get that clever line in there ... usually.

Wareham: There are so many great lines on there. I love the first line of the album, "I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks." That’s something I love about Pavement, too -- the number of lines over the years that have stuck in my head from your songs. It kind of reminded me of "Caught my dad cryin'" (from "Rattled by the Rush").

Malkmus: I think I get enough good ones in there. I run into parts where I don’t have anything good to sing, and I just sing borderline clichés or things I hope no one is really listening to. When that happens, I just think, well, it’s like classic rock. Or, that it puts the other things in a better light, the lines that stick out.

Wareham: The lyrics don’t have to be brilliant all the way through; it’s nice if there’s a moment in a song where a couple of lines really stand out.

Malkmus: I agree with that. If it gets too tightly locked down, you start to wonder about the writer -- they’re almost bragging or something. I guess rappers, they do it, but I can’t.

* Listen: Obetrol at Bella Cafe.

* "All that matters is that the thing be the thing of the thing." -- Charles Olson


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