WOWEE ZOWEE (33)
August 15, 2018
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the subject of our favorite albums of the Nineties (1994–2003). A new installment in this series will appear each Wednesday during 2018.
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | THE MEKONS | 2000
“Continuing on our way through Sicily…” A literary band can lead off an album that way (“Myth”): in medias res, reasserting their collectivity, and inviting us along with them, wherever their punk-folk peregrinations might go. I had joined around 1989, when The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll was released.
Journey to the End of the Night was released a few months into Y2K, after we had ushered in the new digits without global collapse. To think, now, how much fear we channeled into our little computers… What did we know from fear then? There would be ample time for fear later on, when we’d live life protractedly in “an accident / caused by the government” (“Tina”). I heard Mekons play the Bowery Ballroom the week that Journey came out. I remember the gig in particular because Sally fell ill just as “The Ballad of Sally” began, and rushed offstage, leaving Jon to sing her part.
This album didn’t plunge me into existential despair, which speaks to the tracks — many propelled by a driving beat — and to the largely carefree time of my life in which it made its appearance. Just before the record was released, I broke up with someone. It had been my starter adult relationship. I bounced back quickly: I was still young, and I hadn’t disrupted the fabric of my life for this thing. I had a good job, and acres of time. I wrote. I dated. I danced. That summer, I journeyed alone to The Edge of the World — Newfoundland – and didn’t fall off.
“Something To Be Scared Of” is a transcendently spooky number, but I had literally nothing to be scared of when I first encountered it. Bouncy, cheeky “Neglect” carries the refrain, “Give me ten thousand pounds, pleeeeeeeease.” Its veneer of comedy, today, has worn down to a more naked despair. “Last Night on Earth” is an apocalyptic toe-tapper. These are songs for dancing angst away. That year, my journaled worries had finally been addressed: I would find love! And, I’d be fine when it ended, too.
Also at the Bowery that night, unbeknownst to me, stood the tall, lanky man I’d be spending the rest of my life with. It would be another year before we’d meet, marry, procreate, and survive several of my bouts with cancer together. And, eventually, we’d be part of a backing choir on a Mekons album.
WOWEE ZOWEE: Stephanie Burt on UNISEX | Anindita Basu Sempere on UNDER THE PINK | Mark Kingwell on DUMMY | Bill Nericcio on AMOR PROHIBIDO | Sherri Wasserman on HIPS AND MAKERS | Mimi Lipson on THANK YOU | John Overholt on BEN FOLDS FIVE | Jordan Ellenberg on GET LOST | Chelsey Johnson on PERSONAL BEST | Marilyn Snell on MAXINQUAYE | Dan Fox on DIFFERENT CLASS | Devin McKinney on IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER | Alice Boone on MTV UNPLUGGED (ALICE IN CHAINS) | Rob Wringham on SPICE | Joe Alterio on BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE | Jason Loeffler on SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS | Rick Pinchera on EITHER/OR | Josh Glenn on THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST | Jennifer Krasinski on SUPA DUPA FLY | Sara Ryan on DIG ME OUT | Luc Sante on MEZZANINE | Molly Wright Steenson on I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE | Franklin Bruno on ENGLAND MADE ME | Michael Campochiaro on IS THIS DESIRE? | Adrienne Crew on CALIFORNICATION | Drew Daniel on I SEE A DARKNESS | Veda Hille on THE SOFT BULLETIN | Vanessa Berry on TEENAGE SNUFF FILM | Tom Kipp on GET SKINTIGHT | David Hirmes on DOPETHRONE | John Hilgart on YORK BLVD. | Deborah Wassertzug on JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | Adam McGovern on INVINCIBLE SUMMER | Brian Berger on TIRED SOUNDS OF… | Michael Grasso on MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN | Jen Collins on HURRAH | Flourish Klink on THE TEACHES OF PEACHES | Judith Zissman on TALLAHASSEE | Lauren Oliver on SOUND-DUST | Jason Cohen on IS THIS IT | Matthew De Abaitua on THE RAINBOW CHILDREN | Jenny Davidson on TIME (THE REVELATOR) | Crystal Durant on LIVE THROUGH THIS | Gordon Dahlquist on GARBAGE | Erin M. Routson on WASHING MACHINE | Carl Wilson on TEMPTING | Jessamyn West on ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | Kaleb Horton on STREETCORE | Tom Nealon on BAZOOKA TOOTH | Erik Davis on DOPESMOKER | David Levine on FEVER TO TELL | Deb Chachra on MASS ROMANTIC.
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