A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Today’s song is “Foreman’s Dog” by Fugazi from their 1998 album “End Hits”.
A well worn cop’s shoe’s kicking out a door frame
PR-ing like a foreman’s dog
“What a slob but I guess you know
He’s got to make a living somehow”
I don’t remember my first time hearing Fugazi. As i’ve said before, I first really got into punk rock during my freshman year of college, which was 92-93. That would’ve been in the period between the “Steady Diet of Nothing” and “In On The Kill Taker” albums. There was a lot of DC hardcore getting listened to by some of the folks that I was hanging with at the time. I remember liking Fugazi at the time but was just as interested in some of the other Dischord Records bands that I was being exposed to – Circus Lupus, Holy Rollers, Lungfish, Ignition, etc. I think it would take hearing “In On The Kill Taker”, which came out that summer, to really hook me. From there I was all in.
I didn’t get to see Fugazi until after I moved to Pittsburgh. In May of 1998 they played in the Carnegie Mellon student union. I remember a group exodus from our apartment in Squirrel Hill down to catch the show. It was in the Rangos Ballroom, not the gymnasium, so things sounded great and I remember having a great time. Burning Airlines and Quixotic both played and they were both kinda “eh”.
Later that year Christopher, Martha, Eric the Red, Bethany and I loaded up in the car and went south to catch a weekend of Fugazi shows in West Virginia. The first show was in Charleston where Martha’s family lived, so we ended up staying there. Martha’s parents are lovely people but they are insane and I just remember the time at their house being bonkers. The show was at a venue called Common Grounds which was kinda short and wide. That night we got to see a classic “some dumb jocks acting up at the Fugazi show so they got thrown out” episode. The next night we drove up to Morgantown and saw the show at 1-2-3 Pleasant St. Both of these performances were incredible. Good times with good friends. It’s amazing to realize how infrequently I travel out of town to see shows anymore but at one point it was quite frequent.
That last time I saw Fugazi was at Carnegie Mellon again, this time as part of the Spring Carnival in 2001. It was outside under a tent in a parking lot. I recall this show being okay but generally just feeling a bit annoyed and distracted. One thing I do remember about this show is that I saw Emma there. This was before we had met and knew each other but during the days when we would see each other around and catch each other’s eye. This would all lead up to a few month’s later when we would finally meet, start hanging out, etc. So Fugazi gets conveniently thrown in that narrative as well.
I feel like a lot of people got lukewarm on Fugazi after “In On The Kill Taker” and in some ways it is easy to see why. IOTKT was such a loud, gritty, ambitious record. There was an anger and a punkness that the punks wanted, the politics that the intellectual kids wanted, but also showed some artiness and musical maturity that made it interesting. After that album I think a lot more of the artiness and maturity seep in in a way that turned some folks off. I love all of Fugazi’s records and I think at various times I could make an argument for any one of them to be my favorite, though I think usually think “In On The Kill Taker” and “Repeater” are consistently my top choice.
Though less frequently ranking in the top spot, I think the last two records “End Hits” and “The Argument” are arguably some of their best material. “End Hits” especially has some great little guitar licks that get stuck in my head at times – specifically “Arpeggiator”. It’s got it’s punk moments (“Foreman’s Dog” is a good example of them still kicking out an angry, punk rock tune) but also its chill, arty moments (“Pink Frosty”). More variation and more texture on the later albums which I appreciate.
Since 1993 there has probably been few weeks where I haven’t listened to a Fugazi song or a song by one of the pre or post-Fugazi bands (Minor Threat, Embrace, Rites of Spring, The Evens). This has been one of the constant soundtracks to my life. It’s hard to imagine my life without it.