Stephen Malkmus, formerly the lead singer and guitarist of Pavement, is now with a group called Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. SM & the JS has a new album called “Wig Out at Jagbags.” “Wig Out at Jagbags” includes the song “Chartjunk.”
“Chartjunk” – we’re finally to basketball here – is about Brandon Jennings.
This tune is inspired by the NBA and a specific player, Brandon Jennings. He’s a prima donna point guard. He went to Italy young, he didn’t go to college, he just went straight to European league and then he came back and he’s a real hot dog gunner. He had a relationship with a specific coach, his name is Scott Skiles, he’s a very bossy, my-way-or-the-highway-type coach. They butted horns. Skiles was also an ex-NBA player, and he was saying, ‘I’ve been there, I know what you’ve been doing, and I can tell you,’ and Jennings was like, ‘You’re not my mother, I’ve got a contract and I don’t need you to tell me what to do. I’m my own man.’ This all happens over a Chicago Transit Authority, ham and eggs, rock ’n’ roll song, complete with Chicago-style horns and sort of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”-song, which might be a Canadian band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive-style singing…You can make this metaphorical about anything. There must be some Freudian angle or early Greek — Odyssey, Icharus, something going on there. But on the second verse it gets specifically into things like dropping dimes and dipsy doos and the D-League in Wichita, which is a minor league basketball league, so that’s pretty specific. I can’t really get away with that.
Sometimes lyrics – including my favorite line, “I’ve been you. I’ve been everywhere you’re going” – are clearly in the voice of Skiles:
Others – “I don’t need your windbag wisdom and all the restrictions,” “No one can stop me now. Dipsy do. I won’t use the glass now, babe,” “If you flood the lane on me, brother, watch out for a stepback 3. I put the I in team like no other. Actually, I’m not contractually obligated to share” – channel Jennings’ inner voice.
But perhaps the genius of the song is it’s not always clear when Skiles ends and Jennings begins and vice versa. “Think again, because you’re not my mother. Actually, I’m not contractually obliged to care.”
Also, it’s just really catchy.
I’ve been you. I’ve been everywhere you’re gooooing