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September 10, 2013 7:31 AM   Subscribe

An Oral History Of The Wrens’ The Meadowlands The Meadowlands is ten years old today.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (20 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Who's gonna post the first oral history of the 2013 oral history boom? Studs Terkel has no idea what he unleashed.
posted by C.A.S. at 7:49 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Did I imagine once having a version of "Everyone Choose Sides" where the guitars weren't so muffled at the beginning?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2013

That sounds right, and I did like the older version of 'this boy is exhausted', with more vocals in the chorus.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

It seems like I had a different version of that entire record than the only one I can find now, differently sequenced even.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:14 AM on September 10, 2013

The Meadowlands is ten years old today.

Which means I've been waiting for the next Wrens album for about a decade. It really is a great album though.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Who's gonna post the first oral history of the 2013 oral history boom? Studs Terkel has no idea what he unleashed.

The oral history boom is the natural progression of the 2012 long read boom.
posted by jessssse at 8:20 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there were two cuts, one sent out to critics maybe 8 months before it got released. It also had a track that got cut and the sequencing was different. Through the magic of stolen music, for years I thought this was how the album was 'supposed' to sound- quite a surprise when I got a real copy. I still prefer the first version.
posted by monocyte at 8:24 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Come to think of it, I did get my copy of The Meadowlands from a record industry friend back in the day. That must be why the one on Spotify never sounds right to me. "Shot Rock Splitter to God" and all of that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:31 AM on September 10, 2013

Ah. Found it. Much more like I remember.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:37 AM on September 10, 2013

I could easily write a 50,000-word position paper about how much I adore this record and this band and how deeply The Meadowlands is embedded into every single facet of my psyche, but I'll spare you and keep it limited to "Hey, thanks for the FPP!" Can't believe this album has been out for ten years, I bought it the day it came out. The lyrics keep making more and more sense as I get older, which is both rather unsettling and incredibly comforting.

Bored and rural-poor, Lord, at 35, right? I'm the best 17-year-old ever.

Every single Wrens show I've ever seen has been uniquely magical, vital, and spectacular. Every time they invited everyone up on stage to play those little egg shakers and tambourines and random pieces of percussive ephemera was just another instance of the most fun I've ever had, even when some dude shattered a beer bottle onstage at the beginning of a song somewhere in Germany and all of our percussion-wielding hands gradually became covered with tiny slices and cuts from all the glass shards. I went on a small overseas tour with them 6-7 years ago and have seen them play a few dozen times all around the US and EU -- very few bands are worth that much time and expense, but no one (IMO) deserves that level of devotion more than them. That they could tour on the same album for so long is a great testament to the peerless quality of their live performances just as much as their songs. I love them so, so, so much. Absolute nicest, most genuine dudes you could ever meet, too.

Here's an adorable acoustic performance of "Everyone Choose(s) Sides" where Jerry plays a Cap'n Crunch box in lieu of drums. Summer of 2006. What a year! (I am just out of frame, sitting underneath the camera guy, screaming silently into the palms of my hands.)
posted by divined by radio at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Thanks for that comment. The Wrens are easily the best indie rock band that I have ever seen live.

I saw Charles Bissel open up for Okkervil river about 8 years ago at a small bar in Philly. Okkervil played 'Ex-Girl Collection'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes! I might have been at that show, actually. Was it at the Khyber?

If you don't have it yet, I'd strongly recommend picking up a copy of Jagjaguwar's split 7" with Charles' cover of "It Ends With a Fall" and Okkervil's cover of "Ex-Girl Collection." Just awesome. You can buy it here (vinyl only) or here (MP3 or vinyl).
posted by divined by radio at 9:27 AM on September 10, 2013

Yes it was! Audible opened up for them, and they gave a shout out to my friend. Bissel did Jane Fakes a hug.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2013

I listened to this album hard and incessantly. It was great. I was very sad when my wife ruined my Meadowlands shirt by washing it with a chapstick. It was a great red color (the shirt, not the lip balm.)

I haven't listened to this in years. I wonder how it will hold up.
posted by OmieWise at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2013

I feel like such a hipster here, because the Wrens album I spent untold hours with was Secaucus (1996). A friend of mine had been tour managing a band that ended up doing a few shows with them. He passed me a cassette of their then most recent album ... and let's just say I got lost for a while.

Jane Fakes A Hug remains my fave track, working that strange and beautiful ground where dream and slow brewing nightmare fuse, like David Lynch by way of My Bloody Valentine.

And yet, short of a couple tracks floating around in my mp3-shuffle (Boy You Won't, Everyone Chooses Sides), I haven't listened to any Wrens since. I think I know what the next few days are going to sound like ...
posted by philip-random at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Who's gonna post the first oral history of the 2013 oral history boom?

Yeah, toss it on the heap out back along with all the "open letters".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:14 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Whoa, I'm with DirtyOldTown, I've been listening to the early version over the last 10 years. It's so ingrained in my head I can't give an honest opinion of the real release, it just sounds wrong.
posted by crashlanding at 6:21 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Meadowlands is one of my all-time favorite albums and now I'm reading there's an "old" version of the album I've never heard?! Where would one find the "old" version?
posted by photoslob at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2013

Seriously, somebody send me the old version?

One of my favorite gigs ever was opening for The Wrens for a radio show in DC. They hit traffic on the way down, were too late to see out set much to our chagrin, but were so friendly and gracious, we exchanged phone numbers, and they played a lovely, heartfelt, rocking set.

Love em, love the meadowlands, and love The Meadowlands.
posted by entropone at 10:32 PM on September 10, 2013

What a fucking album. What a fucking band.
It's been so long since you've heard from me/Got a wife and kid I never see/I'm nowhere near where I dreamed I'd be/I can't believe what life's done to me.
I know of no better opening to an album. Heart-rending. Gets me every time. And every day I get older, I understand its many truths more and more.
posted by hydatius at 12:16 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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