Pavement’s Farewell Horizontal, Harness Your Hopes, and The Age of the Ass

After years of waiting, Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal will finally see the light. Of day. If you don’t know what that is, Terror Twilight is Pavement’s fifth and final album, and the only studio album of theirs that has yet to get an expanded or deluxe reissue. Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. came out in 2008; it was the last in the series of reissues that started with Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe & Redux back in 2002.

Fans have been waiting for Matador to put out Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal since around 2009-2010, but Matador and members of the band have been silent about it for more than a decade. Farewell Horizontal (which they probably got from the book of the same name) was one of the titles suggested for the album, before they settled with the alliterative Terror Twilight.

Curiously, Matador’s teaser for the upcoming reissue was a track called “Be the Hook,” an unrecognizable early version of a killer song (“The Hook“) that would appear later on Stephen Malkmus’ solo debut. I don’t want to be that guy, but “Be the Hook” is kind of lackluster and, at best, tentative. Well, looking at the track listing of this 4-LP / 2-CD expanded edition, most of the tracks are just alternate and early versions of the same songs that would end up on the album.

“Ground Beefheart” is “Platform Blues,” “Jesus in Harlem” is “Cream of Gold,” and “Billy,” said to be a reference to Malkmus’ dear friend Billy Corgan, later renamed as “Billie.” There are also two early versions of “You Are a Light,” one recorded in Jackpot! and the other in Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio.

Matador releasing a surprising, if uninteresting track as a teaser is somewhat understandable. Aside from “Be the Hook” and one fan-favorite Spiral Stairs track, most of the songs here do not have the Holy Grail-level of say, the Slanted and Enchanted-era John Peel sessions, or the B-sides off Brighten the Corners. Sure, most of them were previously unreleased, previously unheard, but there’s hardly a handful here that the most seasoned Pavement fans did not already “knew.”

How are these songs different from the ones that ended up on Terror Twilight? Probably not much. There’s high probability that some of these songs have different lyrics. I wonder how the early demos and (shelved) recorded versions differ from the final versions, music-wise. Is there a better (or at least interesting) alternate version of “Platform Blues,” or “Cream of Gold,” or “Ann Don’t Cry”? Maybe not. Here’s hoping the demos of “Spit On A Stranger” and “Carrot Rope” are as “complete” as the “Major Leagues” demo.

I’m not really interested in knowing how different the earlier versions of “The Porpoise and the Hand Grenade” or “Rooftop Gambler” were from the ones that ended up on Spit On A Stranger and Major Leagues EP. Apart from the Brighten the Corners-era B-sides and covers (“The Killing Moon,” “The Classical”), the B-sides on both EPs are among the least interesting tracks in the band’s catalog. Well, for research purposes, they’re probably good for a spin or two.

I’m actually more curious about the studio version of “For Sale! The Preston School of Industry.” The song is currently available only on YouTube and low-quality MP3 rips. How will the studio version fare compared to the one they wrote and performed live on TV? By the way, here’s a link to the TV episode in its entirety. Was it not that good that’s why it was abandoned early on? Or did it not sound good together with the other songs? Well, maybe. And if you’d ask me, “Preston School” is hardly among the top-tier songs by Spiral Stairs (“Mussle Rock,” “Kennel District,” “Winner of the”).

With Farewell Horizontal coming out twenty years since Matador started reissuing Pavement’s albums, and more than a decade since the last one (Nicene Creedence Ed.), it isn’t unsurprising that Matador and Pavement wanted to add more hype to the proceedings. Because — again, I don’t want to be that guy — there’s kind of a dearth of unearthed materials here. Thus, the surprise new music video for the band’s most popular song on Spotify, a song that, by the way, isn’t included in the expanded Terror Twilight. Thus, Matador is also reissuing the Spit On a Stranger single, where the song first appeared on officially (it was later included in the Brighten the Corners deluxe reissue, since it was originally recorded during the BTC sessions). Does anyone still remember Secret History, Vol. 1?

I don’t remember exactly when did I first heard “Harness Your Hopes.” It was in the mid-aughts, maybe on a bootleg copy I downloaded somewhere. Maybe it was a bootleg of the BBC Radio One sessions, which also includes a killer cover of Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.” And the song has been one of my favorite Pavement tracks since then. And not just me, I’m sure other Pavement fans as well. Though the fans aren’t really the reason “Harness Your Hopes” became the band’s most streamed song on Spotify — it’s the platform’s weird algorithm.

Regardless of its recent rise in popularity, the song has long been one of the favorite non-album tracks among fans. One of the reasons is its playful lyrics. Fans and critics have been writing about rhyming Pavement with enslavement (and other words ending with -ment) since the series of reissues came out in the ’00s. It’s a reference to the lyrics “Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement / And I won’t kill your parents and roast them on a spit.” Some fans deduced that killing your parents and roasting them on a spit actually means “depravement,” and that the next line “And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it,” could also be summed up as “engravement.”

More interesting though is one fan’s comment on Facebook asking if Pavement predicted the 2020’s, referring again to lyrics of “Harness Your Hopes.” Pay attention to the highlighted lines (in Bold) in the following couplets:

And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it
Or you’re gonna catch a bad, bad cold
And the freaks have stormed the White House, I moved into a lighthouse
It’s on a scenic quay, it’s, oh, so far away

COVID-19 as the bad, bad cold is somewhat on point and the freaks storming the White House is pretty funny. I might add that the couplets below reminds of me of conservatives with their semi-automatic rifles in those anti-lockdown rallies in 2020.

It’s a semi-automatic, believers are ecstatic
You see the way they cling, the cold metallic sting

And the line about the rations below, kind of reminds me of people panic-buying, and of course, the Toilet Paper Apocalypse. The bit about asses? Well, this is not from 2020’s but I remember it was also brought up a lot around the time of the lockdown: ‘The Age of the Ass’: Baudrillard, Black Leggings, and the More Nude than Nude, which tackles how leggings/yoga pants reveal as much as they conceal that which needs not to be revealed.

And I’m checking out the asses, the assets that attract us
To anything that moves, we’re deep inside the grooves
And it’s time to shake the rations ’cause someone’s gonna cash in
The plot it turns again, the reference starts at ten

By the way, here’s Yellowjacket‘s Sophie Thatcher trying to find a word that rhymes with Pavement in the new “Harness Your Hopes” music video.

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