vinyl records

Music Monday: Pearl Jam 1994

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Pearl Jam Image One
Photo Credit: vinylthriftchaser.wordpress.com

Twenty-five years ago, this week (November 19/25, 1994), the song Spin the Black Circle by Pearl Jam debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (Page 79/ called Album Rock Tracks in 1994), entering at #16 (also its peak). Released November 8, it was the first single from their third album Vitalogy. Produced by Brendan O’ Brien, it was written by Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard.

Mike McCready had difficulty with the leads and Jeff Ament didn’t like the punk sound at the time. Per Vedder, the lyrics reflect a love of vinyl records but, there could be interpretations of similarities with drug addiction.

From Jon Pareles with The New York Times (December 4, 1994):

The most [Vedder] will do is proselytize against the extinction of the LP, as he does in “Spin the Black Circle,” one of the few songs from Seattle in which a needle has nothing to do with heroin.

From Al Weisel with Rolling Stone (December 15, 1994):

Vitalogy has a number of gripping songs that match the soaring anthems of Ten. The first three tracks are a promising start: “Last Exit,” “Not for You” and especially “Spin the Black Circle,” a revvedup thrash tribute to vinyl, rock harder than anything Pearl Jam have ever done.

Pearl Jam Image Two
Image Credit: pinterest.com

From David Browne with Entertainment Weekly (December 9, 1994):

Pearl Jam still hasn’t developed an individual style to match that of its profoundly uptight singer, Eddie Vedder. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready continue to play sloppy, characterless riffs. [T]heir punk song, ”Spin the Black Circle,” is a little flabby, like dinosaur rockers trying to prove they’re into Green Day.

The song peaked at #18 November 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first Pearl Jam single to enter this chart. It also peaked at #11 on the Billboard Alternative chart (called Modern Rock Tracks in 1994). It peaked in the top five in Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

The single won Best Hard Rock Performance at the 38th annual Grammy Awards. Vedder famously remarked:

I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything.


 
Lyrics (From LyricFind)
See this needle
Oh see my hand
Drop, drop, dropping it down
oh so gently
here it comes
touch the flame
Turn me up
won’t turn you away

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Pull it out
a paper sleeve
Oh my joy
only you deserve conceit
Oh I’m so big
and my whole world
I’d rather you
rather you, than her

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Oh you’re so warm
oh, the ritual
as I lay down your crooked arm

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin

[Repeat: x5]
Spin the black

circle

Spin the black circle
Spin the black circle

Flashback Friday: Disco Demolition Death 1979

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Disco Demolition Image One
Photo Credit: dailyherald.com

Forty years ago, today, the Disco Demolition took place at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. What started out as a baseball promotion turned into a mêlée that damaged the field.

[..] disco didn’t quite die a natural death by collapsing under its own weight. Instead, it was killed by a public backlash that reached its peak on this day in 1979 […]. That incident, which led to at least nine injuries, 39 arrests and, the cancellation and forfeit of a Major League Baseball game, is widely credited […] or, blamed for […] dealing disco its death blow.

The event was the brainchild of Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, popular disk jockeys on Chicago’s WLUP “The Loop” FM. […] many […] rock DJs were displaced by disco [but], only Dahl was inspired to launch a semi-comic vendetta aimed at “the eradication and elimination of the dreaded musical disease.”

On May 2, the rainout of a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers led to the scheduling of a doubleheader on July 12. Dahl and Meier approached the White Sox with a rather unorthodox idea for an attendance-boosting promotion […]. […] allow Dahl to blow up a dumpster full of disco records between games of the doubleheader. White Sox executive Mike Veeck embraced the idea […].

[…] organizers […] grossly [underestimated] the appeal of the 98-cent discount tickets offered to anyone who brought a disco record to the park to add to the explosive-rigged dumpster. WLUP and the White Sox expected perhaps 5,000 more fans than the average draw of 15,000 or so […]. What they got, instead, was a raucous sellout crowd of 40,000+ and an even more raucous overflow crowd of as many as 40,000 more outside on Shields Avenue.

What followed was utter chaos, as fans by the thousands stormed the field, […] began to wreak havoc, shimmying up the foul poles, tearing up the grass and lighting vinyl bonfires on the diamond while the stadium scoreboard implored them to return to their seats. Conditions were judged too dangerous for the scheduled game to begin and the Detroit Tigers were awarded a win by forfeit.

[Source]

Disco Demolition Image Two
Photo Credit: wbbm780.radio.com

In the weeks before the event, Dahl invited his listeners to bring records they wanted to see destroyed to Comiskey Park. Owner Bill Veeck was concerned the promotion might become a disaster […]. His fears were substantiated when he saw the people walking towards the ballpark that afternoon. […] many carried signs that described disco in profane terms.

Some leapt turnstiles, climbed fences and entered through open windows. Attendees were supposed to deposit their records into a large box [but], once the box was overflowing, many people brought their discs to their seats. Many of the records were not collected by staff and were thrown like flying discs from the stands. Tigers designated hitter Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions. “It wasn’t just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I’ve never seen anything so dangerous in my life.” Attendees also threw firecrackers, empty liquor bottles and lighters onto the field. The game was stopped several times because of the rain of foreign objects.

Dozens of hand-painted banners with such slogans as “Disco Sucks” were hung from the ballpark’s seating decks. Dahl set off the explosives, destroying the records and tearing a large hole in the outfield grass. […] the first of 5,000 to 7,000 attendees rushed onto the field […]. The batting cage was destroyed and, the bases were pulled up and stolen. Among those taking to the field was 21-year-old aspiring actor Michael Clarke Duncan […]. Duncan slid into third base, had a silver belt buckle stolen and went home with a bat from the dugout. Some attendees danced in circles around the burning vinyl shards.

Chicago police in full riot gear arrived (9:08pm) to the applause of the baseball fans remaining in the stands. Those on the field hastily dispersed upon seeing the police. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to allow his players to take the field […] due to safety concerns. Anderson […] demanded that the game be forfeited to the Tigers. He argued that, under baseball’s rules, a game can only be postponed due to an Act of God, and that, as the home team, the White Sox were responsible for field conditions.

Disco Demolition Image Three
DJ Steve Dahl
Photo Credit: npr.org

Cultural Significance

NPR Article

Daily Herald Article

Chicago Sun-Times Article

New York Times Article