Five Second Critic 011: Pavement

In their song “Cut Your Hair,” the band Pavement leaves a crucial narrative question unanswered. But in this week’s episode of Five Second Critic, I dare to call them on it.

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Pavement’s February 1994 single “Cut Your Hair” `was a road trip soundtrack staple amongst my circle of friends. The song, which Wikipedia calls, “a snarky ode to selling out,” is such a favorite of mine that the band in my as-yet-unpublished novel was set to cover it for a good, long while, before opting instead for a cover of Seaweed’s version of “Go Your Own Way.” So, this critic has listened to the song more than his fair share of times.

But, even after all of those listens, one narrative issue has continued to plague me. “The second drummer’s drowned,” Stephen Malkmus sings in the first verse. But what, I ask, happened to the first drummer? And which drummer is it whose hair we are asked if we’ve seen? The second drummer’s? The present drummer’s? And, for that matter, is the present drummer the first drummer come round again, or is he a third drummer?

How a song with such narrative holes ever got to be so popular we will never understand.