Monday, December 10, 2007

"Eight Miles High"/Versions of Transcendence

Yesterday, I mentioned Husker Du's version of "Eight Miles High" as one of those touchstones of my formative years. I remember hearing this song on the radio (WXRT, in a fit of programming mad genius, never to be repeated) in the late 1980s, on my father's old stereo system, bought on leave from Vietnam in the late 1960s. I thought that our living room would either collapse or vault into outer space when that song came on.

Though nothing can replace the original studio version, this live version actually comes pretty close to the catharsis. It goes out to my friend Mark Gunn, happy birthday, thanks for the friendship and the art when I needed it:

Here's the Byrds' original version, more psychedelic and so much cooler than their earlier folk rock period. It is cooler, but I vastly prefer the original emo of Mould/Hart/Norton--an emo so much more real than the corporatized stuff of the 1990s.

The lyrics:

eight miles high and when you touch down
G D Dsus2 C Csus2 C Csus2
you'll find that its stranger than known
Em F#m11/G G/E D Dsus2 C C9
signs in the street that say where youre going
G D Dsus2 C Csus2 C Csus2
are somewhere just being their own


nowhere is there warmth to be found
among those afraid of losing their ground
rain gray town known for its sound
in places small faces unbound

round the squares huddled in storms
some laughing some just shapeless forms
sidewalk scenes and black limousines
some living some standing alone


Chaerephon said...

And here's the link to Husker performing the song live in London in 1985:

Another titanic performance, no doubt done with the subject matter of the Byrds' original -- their first trip to London -- well borne in mind by the always-history-conscious young Du.

Oh, and dude, sweet tabs!

Philip Metres said...

If you can believe, I'm actually trying to learn to play this song. Talk about ridiculous wankery. We'll see how far the solos go.

David-Baptiste Chirot said...

i remember buying the Husker Du pic sleeve the day it arrived in stores in Boston--8 miles high--and wearing it out--going through more--
they completely transformed the song into something of real power--energy--edgy rebelliousness-the Byrds version i never liked--it's pretty, but --well--foggy!--the first time i saw HD they did an immense version--longer guitar solo and the drums if anything even more frenetic iin parts--i put 8 miles and some other really early HD at my blog and face book--the ealry things i did some paintings whih are visual sonic images of some of the emotions those sounds convey--bring to the eyes--generate--zen aracde is stilla favorite cover--ii had a dream inw which bob mould was half turned to a bleak construction wall--and turning saw me coming through the mud towards him--he looked and me--he was hunched over writing on a tiny memo pad--telepathically he was communicating a poem to me--when i woke up i wrote it down--and when saw them next--gave it to him backstage--i said--i am returning a poem you wrote to you--he was vry surprised but really thankful and took it seriously--had a nice tlak with him and grant hart--another strange thing that day--i was at yard sale on break from work and found the old board game Husker Du-i had never seen or heard of one before!
i told them about that too--(at that time i alsodid a xollage zine (zeroxed collage) called appropriately enough No Accident: The Journal of Extra-sensroy paranoia--so this was a counter event to that!thanks Phillip for putting these up!

Philip Metres said...

David-Baptiste, my God, is there no art that has escaped your devouring???!!!! Great story about the Huskers, and Bob Mould dreams.