A Song That I Wish I Could Play On An Instrument | I’m Just a Boy With a New Haircut
<I’ve known of Pavement a lot longer than I’ve known Pavement.
When I was growing up, even when I started exploring my own musical taste, I really only had the radio on which to rely. The best friend I had whose musical taste I knew was a huge Metallica fan; while I do legitimately love them, metal isn’t really my forte. My other friends either had terrible taste, or taste I didn’t know. That meant that Z104.5 The Edge was leading me along.
That, consequently, meant I didn’t hear any Pavement. And I missed out for that.
If you catch me on the right day, in the right mood, I might argue that Pavement are the greatest band in the world. Their contentious history, curious musical decisions, and all around weird behavior may, under whatever self-imposed circumstances I devise, define them as the most “rock and roll” band of the ’90s. And since everything about my musical taste is defined by that decade, that means something to me.
It’s a bit odd, then, that once I finally made it to them in my musical education, it took me some time to see what all the fuss was about. Sure, they may have been writing great songs; hell, they may even have been technically talented somewhere in there.
But they were fucking terrible. Couldn’t play for shit.
It took me a long time to get past that.
Eventually, I did, and I understood. I came to see all the things mentioned above, how much the fact of how they play doesn’t mean anything compared to what they play, and why. The reason I didn’t get them at first was because they were making music for the person I would eventually be, not the person I was at 12, or at 17.
They were making music for the alleged grown up version of me.
So why do I wish I could play their music? Because they are certainly all better musicians than me; you don’t write and play songs as good as their best work without being better than someone who can’t play at all. But I could absolutely pick up a given instrument and learn a fairly significant portion of their songbook.
I would hate it, though.
The way they play would never work with my personality. There’s only the most superficial structure. The way it sounds to me, if anyone has any ideas, they are free to go off and explore for a bit without the rest of the band getting on their case. The playing is sloppy, allowing mistakes to become part of the music, rather than something that needs to be smoothed out.
In short, Pavement run against my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and I love them for it. I wish to anything that I could let myself go, let my art lead me, rather than trying to lead my art.
They’re an example I’ll always wish I could follow, but probably never will.