(Now this veers me back into the ditch…as Neil Young would say…)

Title: Death Valley ’69

Artist: Sonic Youth

Album: Bad Moon Rising

Year Released: 1985

What It Is: The critical track in moving Sonic Youth from an almost unlistenable art-damaged noise band (it’s really hard to get through their first three records, including this one) to the pinnacle of experimental alternative music. And yet, they do this by adding Lydia Lunch as a vocalist / co-conspirator on this track. Ms. Lunch usually is about as remote from listenable as you can get. But somehow…it works. And from there, they released “Evol” and “Sister”.

Riffage / Hookage: A huge huge bass line from Kim Gordon propels the track whilst Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo riff behind it.

Cowbell?: Nope. This was Bob Burt’s last stand as Sonic Youth drummer, and he used cymbals ok but basically just pounded on stuff.

Words Of Wisdom: “Deep in the valley
In the trunk of an old car
In the back of a chevvy
I got sand in my mouth you got sand in your mouth
And you got sun in your eyes I got sun in your eyes
Blind blinded
And you wanted to get there
But I couldnt go faster I wanted to get there
But you couldnt go faster
So I started to hit it you couldnt go faster
So I started to hit it
I started to hit it hit it”

Mixology Report: It’s tricky to throw Sonic Youth into a mix, since it’s rather jarring. However, if you want a jarring change, go for it!

Top Five Genius Results: “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” – The Clash (hmmm…)
“Los Angeles” – X
“Heroin” – The Velvet Underground
“Planet Of Sound” – Pixies
“The Lung” – Dinosaur Jr.

For The Good Of The Order: I saw Sonic Youth open for Neil Young in 1991. Many of the Young acolytes were, um, NOT impressed by the Youth, and their sound doesn’t really fit an arena. But put ’em in a club, then that’s something else entirely.

Here’s the Richard Kern clip that Universal won’t let me embed. (Why, I dunno.) It features Lung Leg (the cover girl for “Evol” and Kern actress) along with Lunch and the band.

And here’s a live clip from 1998 with Steve Shelley on drums (of course).