Shriek of the Week: Dinosaur Jr., “Little Fury Things”
Dinosaur Jr. is playing tonight at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (with support from Creepoid and Screaming Females) as part of the Converse Rubber Tracks concert series. I don’t know what the Converse Rubber Tracks concert series is, but I know that it means that tickets were FREE and I was one of the lucky ones to get a pair. In the excitement of seeing one of my favorite indie rock bands of all time – the loudest band you will ever see live – my Shriek of the Week is the first track off of Dinosaur Jr.’s second album, You’re Living All Over Me, “Little Fury Things“.
This album has been special to me ever since I attended the band’s 25th anniversary You’re Living All Over Me show at Terminal 5 in late 2012. (I talked about that show and Nick Attfield’s 33-1/3 book on that album here). That night, which featured many special guests (Johnny Marr, Frank Black, Kim Gordon, etc.), Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth chipped in on vocals on Little Fury Things. You can listen to that here, courtesy of NYC Taper. Although I knew that the two bands were tight, I didn’t realize until after that night that Ranaldo actually sings backing vocals on the album version as well.
I don’t think Dinosaur Jr. really needs the help though. When you hear the intro screams, “What is it? / Who is it? / Where is it?” you’re instantly thrust into Dinosaur Jr.’s very loud world. Rarely do you feel like you’re fully immersed into an album a mere 9 words and less than 30 seconds in, but when Little Fury Things gets going you’re IN. There is no turning back.
The lyrics to this song are strange and a little difficult to understand (even the title is intentionally misspelled!). Yet somehow they wind up being more potent than the lyrics of many clearer and straightforward songs with arguably more concrete messages. It’s all in the J. Mascis delivery. His drawl, snarl, growl, whatever you want to call it – it was the first of its kind and though it’s been mimicked it’s never been adequately copied.
I’ve always seen Little Fury Things as a perfect microcosm of Dinosaur Jr. overall. The sharp turn from loud screams to gentle singing. The lyrics that can be interpreted as either are very complex or remarkably simple. The timelessness, yet the easy identification of the song as from the late ’80s (or early ’90s). The feedback of the wah wah pedals, a Dinosaur Jr. trademark. Murph’s drum snare. Lou’s driving bass smashing J.’s guitar solo. If you like this song, you like this band.
Sonic Youth did. And they connected their friends to SST, who put out this record in 1987. Lucky from me I picked up an unplayed first pressing of the record last year at a local record show. Some records, more than others, feel really good to own in the physical form and this is one of them.
Dinosaur Jr. – Little Fury Things (Live on KEXP)