Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
The September 1998 release of Mercury Rev’s 4th album Deserter’s Songs represented a creative rebirth. Gone were the shambolic noise freakouts. In its stead were songs of beauty and despair fleshed out by classical music elements. The songs were also mastered to 35mm magnetic film to lend the album a cinematic vibe. Lead off single Goddess On A Hiway was written by singer / guitarist Jonathan Donahue in the late 80’s while he was a member of The Flaming Lips – the song was found on an old cassette and rescued for the album sessions. The song serves as introduction to the sound of the entire album – ghostly, emotional vocals from Donahue, while strings rise up in emotion at key junctures. It also helps that the tune is a natural sing-a-long song, taking of advantage of a clever homonym. The 1st verses words “I got us on a highway / I got us in a car” change to “She’s a goddess on a highway / a goddess in a car” as the song progresses. The single was initially released in November, 1998 and reissued in August, 1999. One thing you will notice is that the sound of the song (and album) is very similar to the career redefining album The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. In fact, the albums shared producer (and Mercury Rev member) Dave Fridmann. The success of Deserter’s Songs helped ensure the success of The Soft Bulletin, and raised the profile of the ‘Lips considerably. The video for ‘Goddess was a point of contention, with two different videos eventually released. I like the strangeness of the one embedded below – it seems to flow well within the haunting vibe of the song. Just try and get the refrain “And I know / it ain’t gonna last” out of your head after listening to this song. Perfection.