My Top 1000 Songs #692: Tunic (Song For Karen)

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.] 

Sonic Youth's majestic (maybe even underrated?) 1990 LP Goo is one of those records with a fistful of great songs that, on any given day, I might pick as my personal favorite. "Disappearer" is great, but also "Mote" and "Kool Thing" and "Mary-Christ." But there's something special about "Tunic (Song For Karen)." Kim Gordon's ode to Karen Carpenter could've gone off the rails any number of ways--the references to the tragic music figure's fatal bout with anorexia, and imagined meetings in Heaven with other dead luminaries like Janis & Elvis, could've come across as just a little flip--but Gordon's deadpan-slash-loving delivery, enhanced by one of the band's most user-friendly musical backdrops, make it surprisingly striking. "Hey, Mom, look, I'm up here, I finally made it. I'm playing the drums again, too." 

Even if you don't appreciate Carpenter's super-un-hip talent (which you should!), Gordon packs in so much earnest pathos--family drama and show-biz pressure and self-doubt and women's body issues--that the song lingers for many painful minutes after the "A Day In The Life"-styled elongated fade.

Live 1990: