Song 20: Stuyvesant – “The Oatmeal Song”

September 11, 2020

Song 20: Stuyvesant – “The Oatmeal Song”

I miss Maxwell’s.

I mean everybody misses Maxwell’s but right now, tonight, at 3:40 AM as I write this, I really miss it.

We were not Maxwell’s regulars. There was a family around Maxwell’s, people who worked there and people who lived nearby and people who were in bands and grew up there and were on a first-name basis with anyone who walked in. We were not that. When we were young, we lived 15 minutes from there, but there were a million places to go and we were going a thousand miles an hour. When we got old enough to appreciate it, we lived more than an hour away. Living that far away, with young kids, you sacrifice the ability to be a “regular” and try and focus on getting there for the best possible bills. It still felt like home.

I first learned Maxwell’s existed by listening to WFDU in the 1980s. I have a radio show on WFDU now, but I can still hear the voice of my favorite DJ there, Jerry Rubino, reciting the station’s club calendar on the air, and holding the “M” and the “L,” saying “and Friday night, X, and the Del Fuegos, at MMMMMMMAXWELLLLLLS.”

Maxwell’s

Sandy and Rich saw Liz Phair there, on the Guyville tour. Once, when we were just sitting at the bar, our Melting Hopefuls single “Pulling an All-nighter On Myself” came on the jukebox (we felt so fucking cool to have one of our records in that awesome jukebox). For a while, our friend Rich published a zine that we’d pile onto the cigarette machine for people to take. There are all these little snippets of memories.

My first Feelies show wasn’t at Maxwell’s – it was at the University of Hartford, in 1990 or 1991. My second Feelies show was at Maxwell’s, as were my next eight or ten. I saw Codeine there, and the Coctails, and Jesus knows how many great bands in the 90s. In the 2000s I saw Unrest (finally), and X, and countless other amazing bands. Everyone did.

I should mention it’s September 11, which reminds me of Hoboken. On September 18 of 2001, my friend Paulie and I went into Hoboken, parked my car, and walked to Frank Sinatra Park (I think) and watched the towers burning across the river. There were emergency vehicles lined up the West Side Highway, half the length of Manhattan. The air was so thick with soot and godawful stench and I felt like I was wiping rocks out of my eyes. We gazed like zombies at the makeshift vigils, reading every handmade poster that pleaded “have you seen my mommy?” with pictures of people we knew weren’t coming home. We cried there as we realized how much we’d lost. People were jogging, walking their dogs, trying to live life in the shadow of that hell.

In 2014 when Stuyvesant was readying their new album, I was toying with the idea of mothballing Dromedary again in favor of a new label. At the time I felt that I’d put out too many different types of music, and the label had lost any identity it might have had. I thought maybe a new label might be a better idea. Brian Musikoff, Stuyvesant’s bass player at the time, suggested that if I was considering starting a new label, he would rather have the first record on my new label than the last record on my old one, which made perfect sense. So Shmyvesant was released by the Sugarblast Music Company, our new label (Lysa texted me when the record came out and said “congratulations on Sugar Tits!”). Sugarblast released three titles between 2014 and 2018 while I was working on growing my radio show and then I shelved it and went back to Dromedary.

Anyway, one of the tracks on Shmyvesant is “The Oatmeal Song.” It’s not my favorite Stuyvesant song, it’s actually one of my least favorite Stuyvesant songs, except for one thing: the video. The video is a long tracking shot, in slow motion, approaching the side door of Maxwell’s, walking in, looking around the bar of the front room, walking down the hallway, opening the door to the back room, and seeing the Stuyvesant guys lounging near the stage. The video was taken in 2013 the night of the band’s final show there, at the club they called home, just a couple of weeks before it closed. It’s filled with familiar faces, and you can almost taste the black and tans.

So maybe you want to see Maxwell’s too. Maybe it’ll warm you up the way it did me.

No donation today, just dig.

~ by Al on September 11, 2020.

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