Song of the Day: Dinosaur Jr – Show Me the Way

Jordan Posner Recalls: I’m going to have to surrender my “Indie Rock Credibility Card” at the annual meeting in Seattle, but I want to come clean about something:

I don’t love Dinosaur Jr.

I love artists that influenced Dinosaur Jr, like the Meat Puppets and Neil Young.

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I also love artists that Dinosaur Jr influenced, like Pavement and Built to Spill.

But I just can’t point to any album or song by the group that made me feel anything other than “Thumbs Down Pandora.” Maybe it’s J Mascis’s whiny voice.

Actually, that’s totally it.

One review or another in the annals of my mind (possibly Rolling Stone) describes J Mascis’s voice as “toothless whistling.” In my opinion, this is the most accurate description in the history of descriptions. I just feel as though he’s suffering every time he opens his mouth. It’s kind of like watching the entire Saw film series set to various guitar frivolities.

Needless to say, I’m not a Dinosaur Jr superfan.

But, mostly to appease various friends of mine (I’m looking in my friend Justin’s direction here), I have listened to nearly all of Dinosaur Jr’s catalog. Call it “osmosis without consent.” While I must admit that some of their songs have lyrics and melodies that transcend the dying goat’s bleat that is Mascis’s voice, the only thing they ever recorded that had an impact on me was their cover of Peter Frampton’s “Show Me the Way” from their 1987 album You’re Living All Over Me. 

J Mascis may sound like David Bowie getting his wisdom teeth removed, but he is one hell of an inventive guitar player. Here, he takes the self-indulgent “talk-boxery” of Frampton and translates it into a wah-wah assault that is somehow both “in your face” and “tasteful.” See also Cream’s “White Room” and almost nothing else.

And yes, maybe I will give Dinosaur Jr another chance. I try every few years. Usually I get bored and put on this Halloween novelty song by Rocky Sharpe and the Replays.

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