Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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17 Responses

  1. aaron david says:

    I always liked Dino Jr, but in the “oh cool, havn’t heard these guys in a while…” kinda way. Not really familiar with this song, so lots to chew on here. Thanks!Report

  2. krogerfoot says:

    The lucky Alaskans videoing that J. Mascis set are in the “sweet spot,” where you just have to kind of imagine what the drums and bass are doing.

    I always loved “Cortez the Killer,” but hated the hippy-dippy take on the Aztecs (for whom hate was just a legend, and war was never known, and cutting the hearts out of conquered villagers was a personality quirk). Now I wonder what the last verse is really doing in that song—Cortez the Killer is the singer’s sadness and regret? I plundered the pure and beautiful love we had, baby, just like the conquistadors plundered the Americas . . . and I feel real bad about it now.

    Well, the more I think about it, the stupider it seems. It’s a great song, and its length and languor are a big part of its impact. I can never forgive the stupid jokey version of it on Live Rust. What the hell were they thinking?Report

    • Glyph in reply to krogerfoot says:

      ‘Hippy-dippy’ is probably one of my problems with Young. It can’t be just the voice, since I tolerate Mascis’ and he’s if anything even worse as a singer.

      That said, when I went to Wikipedia when writing the post to try to confirm that the song was indeed banned under Franco (Wikipedia simply notes the same allegation, made in the Decade liner notes) there was this about the lyrics:

      Young has stated in concert that he wrote the song while studying history in high school in Winnipeg….On a more cynical note, in Jimmy McDonough’s biography of Young, entitled Shakey, the author asked Neil if his songs were autobiographical. Young replied, “What the fuck am I doing writing about Aztecs in “Cortez the Killer” like I was there, wandering around? ‘Cause I only read about it in a few books. A lotta shit I just made up because it came to me.”

      Which goes a ways toward excusing the lyrical missteps. “Whattya want? I was a high school kid, and pretty stoned.”

  3. Chris says:

    Oh, I really like that version at the top.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      @chris – Yeah, I’ve been playing it a lot. I’m not sure if Cox did that alternate melody/harmony (where he goes up high) strictly to get out of the baritone Jarmusch’s way, but it’s a simple embellishment that IMO actually adds a lot to the song (the basics of which are so simple – that’s why it suits soloing so well, it’s kind of built for any “ornamentation” to stand out).

      I think from now on, Cox’s melody will be the way I sing the song. It sounds like it should always have been that way.

      Somewhat along those lines, this just occurred to me this AM during a bout of insomnia, and I figured as a hip-hop guy you’d be the one to ask: hip-hop obviously has a real tradition of remixes, and of quoting (or almost quoting, with a new twist or addition) prior tracks’ lyrics in part.

      But is there any tradition of ‘covers’ there? Covering songs is something that goes back all the way (at least) to blues (actually a lot farther) when no one really even thought that anyone “owned” a song, and it sort of just got taken by others, sometimes altered, sometimes not.

      But I realized in hip-hop I couldn’t really think of examples of covers. Is that due to the lack of vocal melody (covering songs really doesn’t happen much in most vocal-less dance music either – because what would be the point? – but if there are sung vocal melodies, covers are pretty much inevitable).Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Also, it seems to me that their cover kind of Pink Floyds the song up. Like they get it halfway to “Wish You Were Here” or something.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        The Pink Floyding is probably why I like it, as a Pink Floyd fan.

        Hip hop and covers: you know, I can’t think of any. I can think of new takes on songs, but like you said, the words are usually changed. However, there have always been covers of hip hop songs by non-hip hop artists. The Dynamite Hack cover of “Boyz in the Hood” and the Throwdown cover of “Baby Got Back” spring immediately to mind as examples. This seems to support your hypothesis that vocal melody is the primary reason why hip hop covers of hip hop songs are rare: when they’re covered, people create vocal melodies for them.

        I have heard artists do other artists songs live, or at least a few bars of other artists songs, but I’m not sure that really counts. It’s more of an homage than a cover. It also always makes the crowd go insane.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Also, pretty sure this doesn’t count:


      • j r in reply to Glyph says:

        Snoop Dogg covered “La Di Da Di.” If I think on it, I could probably think of a few others.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Ohh, good one. (That song has also been sampled/referenced within an inch of its life):

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Oh wow, didn’t think of that one. And it’s not the only song Snoop covered back then:


        And from



      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        And here’s a list of rap covers, because the internet is now about both cats and lists:

      • Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

        “But I realized in hip-hop I couldn’t really think of examples of covers”

        Walk this way? Or I am off on the definitions you are using of either hip-hop or covers or both?Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @kolohe – yeah, that works but it’s not quite what I meant…I meant one hip-hop artist, covering another’s hip-hop song. Obviously looks like they are out there, I just wasn’t thinking of any.Report

      • Krogerfoot in reply to Glyph says:

        I like how Jim Jarmusch gives the line as “cocoa leaves and pearls.” Or have I been hearing the song wrong all this time?Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @krogerfoot – not sure if that was intentional on Jarmusch’s part or not, but I’ve heard a lot of people mix up cocoa/coca in their speech (hopefully not in their lives).

        Also, I was thinking about the lyrics some more and there MAY be a way to resolve their problematic nature (though it may not be what Young intended).

        If we accept that Cortez is a metaphor for the narrator, and the Aztecs a girl whom he done wrong and messed things up, then it could make sense that the narrator so idealizes Aztec society (the girl) but never really understood her/them.

        He saw her as something idealized in his mind, not as she really was, human, flaws and all; and that, in large part, is what led to the ruin.

        But he’s no more self-aware when it’s all over. She’s still perfect in his mind, not a real person. “She loves me to this day”, he arrogantly still believes.

        Anyway, probably not the writer’s intention (as noted above, he was just a kid who’d read some books), but it could make it go down easier.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    For the last three (COUNT ‘EM!) days, my morning as-the-alarm-clock-goes-off dreams have been dreams in which I’ve been listening to Maynard.

    This morning’s dream was this one:

    That just gets in your head and won’t leave.

    Friggin’ Maynard.Report