Lex Neon on Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum)

Lex remembers some of his favorite songs written by David Pirner of Soul Asylum, one of Minneapolis’s best rock bands ever. Happy birthday David, who has a birthday on April 16.

I remember Clover Club Larry played “Sometime To Return” by Soul Asylum for me sometime in spring of ’90. There was something about the abandon in the playing, and the desperation in the singers. It was better than anything I’d heard on the radio, which was broadcasting a lot of crap at the time. Damn, times haven’t changed much, have they?

Larry loaned me Soul Asylum’s album called Hang Time, released 1988. It was smart, well written, and well performed with the soul of ragged poets. “Standing In Your Doorway” is probably my favorite David Pirner song. It absolutely drips with ballsy rock maneuvers, desperation, poetry.

Sitting and waiting
And hoping to find
Something you’re good at
To use up your time

To crawl from the ocean
And lie on the shore
A moonbeam that rests
On the dust on your floor

(Sidebar: Ana, if you’re reading this, this is what I recited to you on our walk across the college campus when I was a young, romantic, bespectacled nerd.)

This song grabbed me like no other song did in a long time. It was wild, it was poetic, it was brilliantly played, and it rocked. “Marionette” is another slice of rock / pop heaven. The music hooks your ears in with its staccato guitars, toms, and timpani. The word play is clever, and the vocals are executed with searing and daring flair. It is melodic, memorable, and mesmerizing.

The rest of the album is just as great. Further on down the road, Soul Asylum would hit it big with their 1992 album Grave Dancer’s Union, which featured their biggest single so far, “Runaway Train.” Did you know that some of the runaway kids featured in the band’s video were reunited with their families and loved ones?

Another Pirner burner, “Keep It Up,” was my personal anthem for a long time. Whenever I needed cheering up, I’d play this track and dance around like, well, a chicken. “Growing Into You” and “Somebody To Shove” were my other favorites from this album of very well known songs.

Do you remember Soul Asylum’s appearance of MTV’s Unplugged in 1993? I still think it’s one of the best shows of Unplugged’s run. Their “Grave Dancer’s” material held up well under acoustic reconstruction. And they even had Lulu come out and help them sing “To Sir With Love.” It was fantastic!

Dave, if you see this, I just wanna say thanks for helping me to open my musical eyes and ears to lots of possibilities. Thanks for the abandon. Thanks for showing me that great rock songs can be built with great also great acoustic framework. Happy birthday!

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)


~ by Poppermost on September 6, 2008.

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