The Song: "Feed the Tree," Belly. Words and music by Tanya Donelly. Track 9 of Star, 1993.
How/when acquired: Gift cassette, c. 1994.
I just realized that I haven't been identifying the writers of these quotations I'm posting; sorry about that. I'll go back and add that information to the earlier posts . . . but in the meantime, this is the song in my head this morning.
Love and death are the two great subjects of music, and this song combines both. It's about the need to honor our ancestors, I think; the refrain goes, "Take your hat off, boy, when you're talking to me, and be there when I feed the tree." (Feeding the tree = buried under it.)
In this case, a simple quotation of the lyrics doesn't convey its full impact, because the song stutters them over several lines: "I know all of this and — I know all of this and — I know all of this and more." But the official version only gives a single iteration, so that's what I'm quoting.
Belly played the first HFStival at RFK Stadium in 1993, as part of a lineup that included Matthew Sweet, the Stereo MCs, Iggy Pop, X, and INXS. They didn't make a particularly strong impression on me, but my upstairs neighbor, an aspiring rock musician himself, was deeply smitten, and made me a mix tape that included this song. (What is the MP3 equivalent of mix tapes? Do people still do this?) Several of the artists on that tape have faded into well-deserved obscurity, but this song stayed with me, and I bought the track from iTunes last year just because I wanted to hear it again.
Anyway, I like to know stuff. It comforts me and gives me the delusion of order and control. I get a little competitive about it, which is why I play pub trivia weekly at The Liberal Cup in Hallowell.
My team doesn't win all the time, or even that often — in fact, most of the time we come in second, often by a fraction of a point. But last night we won by so much that Quizmaster/Brewmaster Geoff invoked a slaughter rule: any team that wins by four points or more must split its winnings with the second-place team. The slaughter rule is added to the usual practice of splitting the trivia pot between the first-place team and the middle-place team, so the spoils of last night's triumphant win came to $4 apiece. We'd have done better, at least financially, if we'd come in fourth.
I call myself a liberal Democrat, but that kind of income redistribution makes me rethink . . .