Friday Jukebox: Father To A Sister Of Thought

by Steve

To mark and celebrate the return of the excellent Beer and Pavement blog I thought it was particularly apt and obvious to choose a Pavement song. So I have, and Father To A Sister Of Thought is probably my favourite Pavement song, and as Pavement are one of my favourite bands, I guess it follows that Father To A Sister Of Thought is one of my favourite songs.

I love Wowee Zowee. And way back when, I really loved Wowee Zowee. I remember having the cassette and playing it over and over on my Walkman (or whatever cheaper version of a portable cassette player that I had) on my way to school each day. Even now I’ll hear each song in the context of the song before and the song after. It played like a whole piece. An album. Despite being all over the shop. I suppose it was like a favourite mixtape or something.

Father To A Sister Of Thought worked as it felt like the midpoint between Wowee Zowee and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. It had the angularity, oddness and gently stoned perspective of the former, while taking the country-rock-thru-lo-fi leanings of the latter to their natural conclusion, especially with the amazing pedal steel. I’m a sucker for pedal steel at the best of times and in this song it just brings everything into technicolor. This is the song that suggests what Wowee Zowee might have been if the band hadn’t moved away from their own skewed version of seventies rock and country. It is also the song that holds together Wowee Zowee and makes it so much more than a retread of Slanted and Enchanted.

It is also one of the best showcases of Stephen Malkmus’ range as a frontman. He doesn’t just sing, he performs. There is a near-swagger when he sings “I’m just a man, you see who I am” that switches just a few moments later to the yearning, reaching, vulnerable falsetto of “Angel of Corpus Christi, you’re so misty” then back to the matter-of-fact bluntness of “Tell me what I want to hear”.  Rather than sounding like nonsense, as it can read off the page (or screen), it has this importance, this hard-to-grasp emotion, always just-about kept in check.

I always thought the line was Angel or Corpus Christi. Which conjured up something else entirely. The dangers and joys of misheard Pavement lyrics.

As for the video, I like checked shirts and cowboy hats, so I’m happy.