As We Remember 1999: Time Line – Line Time
As We Remember is a monthly series devoted to taking a look back at specific years in music. Who doesn't like to get nostalgic?Posted by Tarin Fasano
As we wander around the time line, I think it’s necessary to check out some of the best lines of 1999. If all the similar sounds obfuscate meaning, it means it’s line time on this time line. Music and culture are very much about beats but the lyrics mustn’t be overlooked. Thus, here are some of 1999′s standouts:
Pharoah Monche captured the energy of the year with his incredulous, “Simon Says (Get the Fuck Up!)” Moral of the story is: no time for messing around in 1999.
The Bloodhound Gang might be making fun of the Beastie Boys with their outfits, dance arrangements and cadences, but their contribution to the outrageous world of musical tag lines in “The Bad Touch” redeems this faux-paus. “You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals / So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel!” Turned on at a school dance, and everyone would go wild about how absolutely inappropriate it was. Brash humor often fails but with enough healthy immaturity it can get a nod on a blog 13 years later. Wooooo…
1999 saw Beck come through with his intelligent and edgy “Sexx Laws.” We can forgive the extra ‘x’ on the end because Beck deserves it. He claims “I want to defy / The logic of all sex laws / Let the handcuffs slip off your wrists / I’ll let you be my chaperone / At the halfway home / I’m a full-grown man, but I’m not afraid to cry.” More points come his way for wordy prowess like “Hijacking your equilibrium,” “pixilated doctors,” and “Coquettes bitch slap you, so polite.” Not to mention his kind and humble attack on gender roles. The music video is interesting especially in terms of retro-futurism. Everyone in there is wearing subtle but vintage clothing. No one is trying to fool you into thinking they’re a robot, but there are extremely non-sleek robotic costumes at play. The “animation” and “effects” are blatantly clunky, nearly parodying the overly slick technology-ad-nauseum of other super high budget music videos. Living in the future means constantly creating it, not necessarily fantasizing about the day when jetpacks and moon-boots will microwave your immortality juice for you.
Okay, Blink 182 is not my jam. But bear with me. “What’s My Age Again” has cultural relevance, if not a tinge of charm. “Nobody likes you when you’re 23… My friends say I should act my age / What’s my age again? / What’s my age again?” They wonder, “What the hell is ADD?… What the hell is caller ID?” Innovations always confuse people. We all want familiarity. New problems are often blamed on the new age, regardless of the simple fact that they’re always present. It’s just that different ones arise at different points in time. Funny how time and progress twist and turn within different minds. Your grandmother might talk about how she had to walk five miles to school every day. Rough. But add cars and receive poor air quality. You win some, you lose some. Children, teenagers, middle-aged-crisis-ers, grannies – which perspective holds the most water? Albeit concepts can’t hold matter, so what is matter and what does (when time flies like an arrow but fruit flies just like a banana)?
“Anthem for the Year 2000″ came via Silverchair. Something of a whiny band but there’s power in the lyrics here. “We’ll make it up to you / In the year 2000 / Build it up for you / In the year 2000.” Youth’s energy, youth’s drive. Do the youth have to make it up to someone? Or is this more about society and politicians making it up to youth, building it up for youth? Someone must build the future. (My dad used to always say, “if you want something done right, you do it yourself”).
Cake killed it too with “Sheep Go to Heaven.” Be a meek fluffy sheep and you will find yourself in the fluffy sky. Go bacchanalian, have fun, and yeah: “goats go to hell.”
“Paper Bag” gives us smart, crazy girl Fiona Apple at her best. “I was staring at the sky, just looking for a star / To pray on, or wish on, or something like that … And I believed for a moment that my chances / Were approaching to be grabbed / But as it came down near, so did a weary tear / I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag.” Illusions shattered, and she handles it with an unusual mixture of stoicism and anger. She gracefully explicates on the smoke and mirrors that blind and cut females (especially females) trying to succeed in a male-dominated, cut-throat industry. Nice.
Filter stays raw with “Take a Picture.” They capture the wide-eyed wonder and constant motion of a dazed musician: “Awake on my airplane, awake on my airplane / My skin is bare, my skin is theirs… Could you take my picture? / ‘Cause I won’t remember / Could you take my picture? / ‘Cause I won’t remember, yeah.” Too many gigs, too many airplane rides, not enough sleep. Oh! So that’s what scrapbooking is for!
Rage Against the Machine cuts even deeper with “Guerrilla Radio.” “Lights out / Guerrilla radio / Turn that shit up / All you pen devils know the trial was vile / An army of pigs try to silence my style / Off ‘em all out that box, it’s my radio dial.” They continue, “It had to start somewhere, it had to start sometime / What better place than here? / What better time than now?” Rage against the machine.
And finally: my number one favorite. “Love Is Like Jazz” by the Magnetic Fields. “You make it up as you go along / And you act as if you really know the song / But you don’t and you never will / So you flaunt your mistakes and you make them until / They were, you…” That’s improvisation. That’s making music. Turn missteps into trills or good patterns. But for the record, jazz is like love.