Song of the Day (America Week): Galaxie 500 “Fourth of July”
Galaxie 500‘s “Fourth of July” is both an ode to all the shut-ins of the world, the people who stay at home on the fourth of July and “pull the shades so [they] don’t have to look at the sky” as well as a deeply moving love song. The song combines absurdist poetry, a catchy guitar figure and a certain melancholy peppered with hope. How else do you describe a song about the Fourth of July that begins:
I wrote a poem on a dog biscuit
And your dog refused to look at it
So I got drunk and looked at the Empire State Building
It was no bigger than a nickel
Most famous though is the song’s refrain: “Maybe I should just change my style/ But I feel alright when you smile.” The song was featured as side one, track one of Galaxie 500‘s final album released in 1990 and titled, This Is Our Music (which featured artwork and a title that were a nod to the identically titled album by the great alto-sax pioneer, Ornette Coleman). Sonically, the song is a heady mix of minor key indie rock and shoegaze, featuring a couple of long and winding guitar solos. In many ways, the song is a perfect tribute to a uniquely American underground music.
Galaxie 500 were founded in Cambridge, MA and released three albums between 1987 and 1991 before the group broke up. The band’s line-up consisted of guitarist/singer Dean Wareham (who subsequently founded the band Luna), drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang (the latter two would go on to form the group Damon & Naomi). Galaxie 500 was heavily influenced by the fuzzed-out, psychedelia of underground groups such as The Velvet Underground and Spaceman 3 as well as more lyrical musicians, including George Harrison. Though the group is no more and unlikely to reunite, Galaxie 500 remains one of the most important and highly regarded indie rock groups. Their influence continues to be excreted on newer groups including Low and My Morning Jacket.
Whether you go out or stay in, have a wonderful 4th!