Today’s song is “Gravity” by Minutemen, from their 1981 album “The Punch Line”. I have this on the CD “Post-Mersh, Volume 1” that collects that album along with their 1983 album “What Makes a Man Start Fires?”
Play the field
Push the wheel
Being boxed in
Friends of friends
And so on
Of newton’s search
Only proves that flesh and muscle
Are being pulled off our bones
I don’t remember when I first really listened to Minutemen. It was definitely later in my punk rock education than it should have been. I think it was because I didn’t really get into Black Flag, so I just didn’t bother with the SST catalog at all for many years.
But then when I was in the band He Taught Me Lies (HTML), we were favorably compared to the Minutemen several times, so I searched out some of their music. I started with the “Double Nickels on the Dime” album (which arguably is the best starting point for getting into the Minutemen) and shortly thereafter picked up “Post-Mersh, Volume 1” after realizing what I had been missing. Seeing the “We Jam Econo” documentary at Pittsburgh Filmmakers sealed the deal. This was a band of sincere, sweet dudes who created these wonderful short bursts of energy. Lyrics were frequently obtuse but beautifully poetic with little bits of truth and knowledge thrown in. Caustic and cutting but with humanity and humility. The more I listened and learned about Minutemen, the more, at least to me, the comparison of HTML to the Minutemen made sense to me. It was so much of what we had been trying to do with our music.
“Gravity” isn’t necessarily one of my favorite Minutemen songs. I’m not sure prior to listening to it right now that I would have been able to note which song it was if you asked “What do you think of that song Gravity by the Minutemen?” When I think of songs called Gravity, my mind turns to Moss Icon – “Singularity. you did not sing and I would not dream. you are the shade breeze. you are the shade. you are the shade breeze blowing. the movers of the stream.” But that’s another story. The Minutemen’s “Gravity” is a perfect example of what they were so good at – showing that a 55 second punk song doesn’t have to be formulaic, derivative or trite.
Strangely I never picked up any other Minutemen albums after this. I guess there is some argument about the quality of some of their other output – I was never really sure which way to go next? Got a recommendation, let me know.