Monday, September 5, 2011

The Summer's Waning: Meat Puppets' "Swimming Ground" (Circa 1985 - Good Quality)

This looks like the Pups when I would've caught 'em, so my best guess is 1985. No description comes with this video, but whoever uploaded it is yet another video-sharing hero. One of the greatest strengths of this great band was the melodies Cris Kirkwood pulled out of his four-string Steinberger bass, an 80s icon-instrument that was never put to better use than in the Pups' tunes.

Up on the Sun was the record to cool you off in the hot summer of L.A. in '85. The title song, "Hot Pink," and "Swimming Ground" especially. This goes on my top ten list of albums that blew my mind and remain impeccably listenable. Yes, timeless is the word. When the band later got its due from Nirvana's memorable MTV Unplugged set, I was happy for them.

However, when I started teaching middle school in 1994, I intercepted a note one of my students passed to another. (I spent considerable time intercepting notes.) This one was a songlist from a mixtape she had made. I'll never forget the first two songs, credited as follows:

1. "Plateau" - Nirvana
2. "Lake of Fire" - Nirvana

My head screamed, "Noooooooooo!" I thought, kids across the country may be led astray by only fleeting awareness of who was sharing Nirvana's stage. But the Pups gained success, and with that some demons were unleashed. See this moving, engrossing profile of Cris Kirkwood's descent into hell...and back...from ABC News (embedding not allowed): Part 1 and Part 2. It's not all darkness; you may find yourself, as I did, laughing with (at?) Curt Kirkwood's disdain for punk rock and punk rockers.

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