Friday, February 06, 2009

Week 36: "Crutch" by Buffalo Tom

I graduated from high school in 1995. As a graduation present my parents got me my first CD player. I still have it. In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I write these words. After buying the CD player I bought my first two CDs at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Sleepy Eyed by Buffalo Tom.

After I got the CD player I moved to Portland, Oregon to begin college where I saw my first rock show at a club. (I had earlier heard R.E.M. play at a large, outside amphitheater near Boston.) I went to a club called La Luna in Portland to hear Buffalo Tom. Hailing from the magnificent college town of Amherst, Massachusetts, Buffalo Tom was sometimes teasingly called Dinosaur Jr. Jr., a reference to the biggest band from Western Mass at the time. This didn’t make much sense to me considering the two bands’ sounds are quite different. Dinosaur Jr. is all electric guitar distortion. Buffalo Tom plays earnest, acoustic pop-rock with some folk-rock influences. The most the two bands seem to have in common, besides coming from the same place, is that each band has three members.

Back in the summer of 1995 I was grooving on Buffalo Tom’s newest single, a catchy number called “Summer.” I had known about the band before that. Ben Hall, now a UU minister and then one of my youth advisors at First Parish in Wayland had exposed me to them.

Well, when I went to see Buffalo Tom play in Portland I was joined by several other Reed College students who also hailed from Massachusetts. By the time the show had finished the city buses had stopped running and none of us had any cash. Stuck, we decided to hang out in the parking lot by the tour bus and try to meet the band. When the band came out we struck up a conversation. One of my buddies asked if the band would mind giving us a ride home in their tour bus. That did not wind up happening, but bass player Chris Colbourn did give us some cash so we could take a taxi home.

This week’s song of the week is the last track from what is arguably Buffalo Tom’s best recording, Let Me Come Over. It is a traveling song, speaking of journeying between Boston and San Francisco. (I had planned to write about this song a week ago while I was on the plane back to Kansas City from San Francisco where I had attended a training for internship supervisors at Starr King School for the Ministry.) If you listen to the song on Youtube (sorry the video is lame) you will hear the folk/pop/rock influences of the band on the verses as well as their spirited and intense choruses.