My Top 1000 Songs #417: Marquee Moon
The 10+ minute title track off Television's 1977 debut Marquee Moon isn't exactly a go-to ditty you'd turn to for a quick adrenaline rush or to throw onto a mixtape or to turn on a friend who has heard of the band but hasn't heard them. (That would be "See No Evil" or "Venus.")
Instead, it's an intense, arguably challenging piece I spin up only intermittently. The repetition of the riff and extended length leaves a lot of space for Tom Verlaine's vocals, which can be good or bad depending what one thinks of Tom Verlaine's vocals. But, hey, it's one hell of a riff, a hypnotic staccato lick set against an equally hypnotic and repetitive guitar counterpoint. And when Verlaine and Richard Lloyd get into full-on jamming, it verges on jaw-dropping.
I got into this record around the same time I was getting heavily into the Grateful Dead, and there was something kinda cool about realizing even punk (or at least punk-adjacent) indie bands recognized the virtues in using a song's template as merely a jumping-off point for something more musically exploratory and spiritually revelatory. A lot of my college DJ friends at the time were pretty dismayed by my scurrying down the Dead's rabbit hole (and still are)... but was "Marquee Moon" all that different? At minimum, it gave later indie bands like Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth and Built to Spill license to jam without losing indie cred and being lumped in with the (at least at the time) more unhip Dead and their ilk.Live at a 2015 reunion gig:Another one from Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs' trio of inspired cover albums: