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Today's ear X-tacy: Violent Femmes "American Music"

Today's ear X-tacy features a classic track or deep-cut from the Alternative era every weekday at 10:10.

American folk punk band Violent Femmes came together in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1981. The trio consisted of founding members, Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie, and Victor DeLorenzo. . The band found critical acclaim with the release of their self-titled debut album in early 1983.

In 1991 they released their fifth studio album, Why Do Birds Sing? The record featured the single "American Music," which reached number 2 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart and became a fan favorite and concert staple. It was the band's last album with original drummer DeLorenzo.

Speaking about the song, bassist Ritchie stated, “Gordon brought it to us. Initially it was very similar to "Kiss Off" or "Add It Up." Straight up Ramones. Basically, what we did was try to sound like the Ramones but acoustic. But Victor thought that Ramones approach wasn't right for the song and said, "Why don't we do it as a shuffle?" He started playing it and that's of course what you hear now.”

“There is a lot of arranging on that song. We put many, many pop music and rock references into the melody of that song. How it ends was important. It keeps speeding up and speeding up and speeding up. That's a reference to Velvet Underground's "Heroin." There are some specific Beach Boys references in there and some Phil Spector references with the timpani and sleigh bells. So it's basically a straight ahead Gordon Gano song which we added all these little touches to, and it became more than only a song, it's a kind of homage to an entire era of American music.”

John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org