Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lee is free!

I have often argued, usually unsuccessfully, that Sonic Youth are the Beatles. Despite the facts that they, like the Beatles, have three strong songwriters (all of whom also sing), a redoubtable drummer, a White(y) Album, and a consistently awesome catalogue glittering with sparkly gems, no one seems to ever fall for my argument. But if I can make one Beatles-y point about SY, it's that Lee Ranaldo is the George of the group—according to their song database here, Lee sings on only 27 SY tracks, typically only one track per album, which makes his showcases rare. In lengthy and circuitous discussions with various Sonic Youth lovers I know, one opinion rises up from the din and confusion: the Lee Ranaldo tracks are the fan favorites, with "Wish Fulfillment" (from Dirty), "Hoarfrost" (from A Thousand Leaves), and the unflippingbelievable "Karen Revisited" (from Murray Street) being especially set apart for devotion. So, compare his infrequent but excellent contributions to George's finest, like "Taxman" or "Here Comes The Sun", and you can see my point. Maybe. (For the record, my favorite George tracks are "The Inner Light" and "Long, Long, Long".)

Here's George's contemplative "Within You, Without You" (with Lee on vocals), from a 1988 compilation called Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father and now available on the Daydream Nation reissue.

Sonic Youth covering the Beatles' "Within You, Without You":

And here's a dream tracklist for a Lee Ranaldo mix:
Pipeline/Kill Time 4:35
Saucer-Like 4:25
Eric’s Trip 3:48
Paper Cup Exit 5:57
Rain King 4:39
Karen Koltrane 9:20
Genetic 3:35
Hey Joni 4:23
Mote 7:37
Hoarfrost 5:01
Wish Fulfillment 3:26
Skip Tracer 3:48
Nyc Ghosts & Flowers 7:52
Karen Revisited 11:10

1 comment:

  1. sonic youth's rhythm (or lack thereof) lends itself very nicely to george harrison tunes.