Vow – Garbage

Vow by Garbage is one of those ‘Time Machine’ records. This one puts me right back on the bus for college. Garbage were a sort of universal balm of a band for the Students in the refectory of my Technical College in 1995. We were all studying Art and Fashion or Politics or Mechanics.

“I can’t use what I can’t abuse and I can’t stop when it comes to you, you burned me out but I’m back at your door like Joan of Arc coming back for more”

They were Grunge, and they were glamorous. They were staunchly and inspiringly feminist, but they were also huge and poppy and played on the radio. They were a big American rock band, with a Scottish Girl out front being the coolest rock star you could hope to follow. A bit us, a bit them. We were going to fall in love with this band en mass.

“I came to cut you up, I came to knock you down I came around to tear your little world apart, I came to shut you up, I came to drag you down, I came around to tear your little world apart and break your soul apart”

As for the song? Listen to the thing right here. Industrial flourishes, grungy, rocky and discordant in a slick no rough edges easy tablet form. It’s like a lyrical handbook for boys and girls in eyeliner and black on how to appear pissed off and interesting, disaffected and passionate, cool and het up at the same time.

There’s an argument that this is little more than a hormonal strop posturing as real emotion. I’d counter that you should ask a teenager if these sentiments sound fake. On the bus to and from college in the middle of the last decade of the 20th century this sounded like both Scion screaming and Angel song at once. That stuff never leaves you.

“Ah, you burn and burn to get under my skin, you’ve gone too far now I won’t give in, you crucified me but I’m back in your bed like Jesus Christ coming back from the dead”

This was the era of Natural Born Killers and the Unabomber. The Grateful Dead split up and Barings Bank collapsed. There were riots in Brixton and Windows PC’s in many people’s homes for the first time. I can hear a bit of all that in Garbage’s debut album. Especially in Vow. Not because it’s in the lyrics, but because the song evokes the time so well for me.

Shirley Ann Manson is one of the great women in rock history. A truly iconic rock and roll leader on an despairingly short list of contemporaries. The legacy of Garbage all started here (we won’t mention the pop band she had her early hits with in the UK). It’s no wonder we all fell in love at the same time.


21 thoughts on “Vow – Garbage

  1. Great pick. I loved that first album. Everything about it was just perfect… from the artwork to the image the band had… Shirley Manson was the baddest and coolest. I loved that ‘didn’t give a fuck-ness’ about her.

    I didn’t take to the second album and I didn’t pay attention to them after that, but I’ll still listen to that first album every now and again.

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  2. If you and I were to ever discuss popular music over a cup of coffee, Garbage and Shirley Manson would come up in a heart beat. In short, ‘Vow’ for me was the beginning of my love affair with Manson. She is one of those rare artists that has had a very profound influence on me over two decades.

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  3. Love this debut album and I regularly still say the line “I can’t use what I can’t abuse and I can’t stop when it comes to you.” not about anything in-particular but it’s always stuck in the mind, especially the way it kicks in just after that.

    I think I got into the track Vow first because it was on a free ‘Q’ magazine CD, before they loved everything, and was part of an incredible indie/alt mix that still follows track-to-track in my head.

    Garbage was a big part of my youth, alongside Portishead’s Dummy, Different Class et all, actually really like the second album as well. A bit more over-produced but there’s still some beauties in there and the song on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack #1 Crush?

    Another fine choice!

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      1. steveforthedeaf – I have taken a vow of digital chastity! I don’t DL music I didn’t pay for and avoid YouTube [and all Google services]. Even DLs I pay for or free DLs from artists I collect rarely get played. It’s so inconvenient to my lifestyle. So, nope. I like reading/discussing music at the occasional MP3 blog, but that’s Not My thing.

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      2. steveforthedeaf – Actually, not downloading shares is also a way to moderate and process the influx of music so that I can properly curate my collection. A tap to the cloud and infinite songs represents a horror to me. Hell, I buy and own too much music as it is! It was almost better when I was in high school with enough lunch money to buy one new album a week. Anything I bought I really listened to. But that’s not how I got the moniker of Monk.

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      3. steveforthedeaf – Dinner was ready…I had to run. I got the nickname from my old friend, chasinvictoria, after he saw some of my very elaborate “boxed sets of god” where I painstakingly digitized every mix and track not on the released albums of Simple Minds in a [stunningly designed, if I do say so myself] 9xCD set + an interactive liner note/discographical CD-ROM with as many videos as I could include. He likened the effort to a monk’s illuminated manuscript and as I had spent dozens [and dozens] of hours editing clicks and pops out by hand in the making of this, when I began blogging I thought back to his simile and thought “that’s it! I’ll call myself Post-Punk Monk!!!”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. steveforthedeaf – By the way it’s not “Your Holiness.” I think that’s protocol for the Post-Punk Pope, and I’m nowhere near infallible enough to have that title!

        Liked by 1 person

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