David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 345: Dinosaur Jr. (Get Me)

April 26, 2024

In the world of rock and roll fandom, there is a real risk to admitting partial knowledge or minimum collection of a band's discography. At rateyourmusic.com, where I have been co-posting this song series, I have known friends to abandon the site because the arguments about one's person "rating" for a song, album, or band can set off a chain reaction of nasty comments. So I know to tread carefully when discussing any song from an artist for which I have limited knowledge.

Nevertheless, I step away from the safety net with my post for Dinosaur Jr. I hope the more zealous of readers are still willing to get me, even if I shock them by admitting that I own one Dinosaur Jr. CD, Where You Been. For sure, thousands of people around the world might read that and go, "where the f*ck you been, Fleming?" At least, based upon that release, as well as the single "Feel The Pain," which came a year after Where You Been, it is completely illogical that I never added more of their releases to my collection. J. Mascis provides the kind of guitar fireworks that I have always loved, ones that often push a mumbling, growly vocal style to the back of the mix, perhaps for the best. As such, almost all of the songs that I know drip with a kind of seedy bar feeling. And no matter how old, how professional, how respectable we all try to get (or at least I try to get), there are times one wants to escape into a seedy bar with a house band like Dinosaur Jr.

Among its ten songs, Where You Been's guitar highlight is "Get Me." The closing solo that begins around the 4:00 minute mark of the album version (avoid the freaking single version) is exquisite, highlighted by the pyrotechnics at the 5:00 mark, carrying the moment until the song's end.

However, it seems wrong to jump right to that closing instrumental coda. Starting off of three distinct drumstick clicks, Mascis sings, fairly clearly compared to his norm,

I don't see you/

I won't call you/

I don't know enough to stall you/

is it me, or is it all you/

guess it's on and on.

I should point out that when I say he sings "fairly clearly," I mean that he enunciates "fairly clearly," as the meaning of this opening verse is pretty opaque. That line "is it me, or is it all you" seems to say everything. We sense a fall-out, a fight, but is our narrator victim or harmer? Whose side am I lining up on?

The song features a rather lengthy set-up for the chorus, "you're not gonna get me through this, are you?" sung with such painful honesty by Mascis (punctuated by a lovely female voice, apparently someone named Tiffany Anders). When one teaches an Introduction to Pop Music class, all they need to do is share that chorus as emblematic of a hook. That line embeds into one's ear as classic ear worm. 

However, the problem is that there seems so little to "get" throughout the rest of the lyrics, indefiniteness permeating throughout all the verses. So much so, that I am singing back to Mascis, "yes, I am not getting you through this. I need a tad more information. And something specific, you idiot." I am tempted to send him Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, highlighting the sections on concrete language. The closest phrasing we get to any concrete imagery, J., is "trembling words [that] don't make your eyes close," which shows promise but dries up quicker than crocodile tears. The only other specific noun is a "dream" that "is shot by daylight," which ain't much help either. 

This song series has repeatedly shown that I am a lyrics' guy, so "Get Me" has nothing word-wise to get me other than the chorus. That's o.k. More importantly, the spectacular guitar work saves the song. It can go "on and on" and I won't complain, which is what the song does with its almost two-minute closing coda. Most critics/fans cite Mascis' guitar-playing influence as Neil Young, but at least on "Get Me," I would argue that he is channeling more of his Buck Dharma (as in Blue Öyster Cult) than his Neil Young, recognizing that arguing such differences between two fantastic styles of guitar-playing is a pretty big waste of time.

As is arguing about the quality of rock lyrics. As I wind this series down to its last few entries, I may have to apply such logic more and more. Hmm, maybe there is room for Limp Biskit in here after all?

Dinosaur, Jr. "Get Me." Where You Been. Sire, 1993. Link here.

Day 344: Linda Ronstadt "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me"

Day 346: Portishead "Glory Box"

See complete list here.