Friday, November 18, 2011

Throwing Muses "Counting Backward"

For full enjoyment of the entry, play this audio now, and let it run while you read the post . . ..

I have one, simple memory that comes to mind, anytime I hear any Throwing Muses song.

It was another UMass Spring concert. I can't remember who was on the bill that year, but the student production company was always pretty good about putting together an eclectic mix of 4 artists, that would appeal to various campus demographics. That's how De La Soul and Bob Dylan appeared on the same bill.

There was usually a hip, indie rock act (in those pre-"alternative" days, we called them "college" bands), like Violent Femmes or something.

This particular year, Throwing Muses filled that slot.

My friend Kurt was a fan. And I trusted his musical taste enough that I made sure I was shoulder to shoulder with him, near the front of the stage.

I can't remember who preceded the Muses' set, but whoever it was, had cleared the stage, and the roadies and student crew, were readying the stage for Kristen Hersh and company.

Per usual, there was a 20 minute or so delay between bands. It was early in the day, so the crowd on the lawn was not yet packed, not yet rowdy (and not yet drunk).

A relaxed murmur filled the air, as friends chatted casually. As Kurt and I did the same.

I don't think I fully registered, the first 5 or 6 times I heard it, but somewhere along the line, I picked up on a noise from behind me.

I looked at Kurt. He heard it too.

Turning around, I saw a scruffy, bearded, grad-student aged guy, one fist in the air, saying, "muses."

Not "MUSES!!!" Not "MUSES." Not even "Muses."

It was more on the level of how you might say, "here" when the professor took roll call in a particularly dull class.


Twenty or so seconds would go by, and then he'd say it again.


Not shouting, not fanatical. Just loud enough to be heard over the crowd murmur. Just frequently enough that you knew it was the only thing on the guys mind.

"muses . . ."

(25 seconds)

"muses . . ."

It was the most lackadaisical show of intense devotion I've ever heard.

And to this day, I can't hear the music, without wanting to not-quite-shout "muses."

If you want to, try it out yourself this weekend in Woods Hole, when Kristen Hersh performs and reads from her book.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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