Smile Politely

Now Hear This! Grasshopper and The Golden Crickets — “NY Avenue Playground” (1998)

After watching a poorly attended but completely incendiary performance by the upstate New York band Hopewell on Friday night, I was inspired to start digging out some of my other favorite Catskill Mountains musicians.

One such performer goes by the name of Grasshopper, who is better known as a guitarist and songwriter of one of the world’s (arguably) most influential rock bands of the past twenty years: Mercury Rev.

And while I’d love to post the whole of Deserter’s Songs for you right here, I am going to stay true to my goal of trying to let you in to my world of hidden gems in the annals of indie rock and beyond.

About the time that Mercury Rev was changing the way that luminaries like Radiohead and The Flaming Lips were writing and producing their songs, Grasshopper decided to go out on his own for a one-off project, having spent time in a monastery, getting his bearings after years on the road. Aptly titled, Grasshopper and The Golden Crickets, the band released Orbit of Eternal Grace in 1998. This track (which is also reprised at the end of the record) stands out for its psychedelic overtones and simple story of two lovers meeting and cavorting at a New York City park under the most common of adult circumstances in this day and age: alcohol.

The music is awash with four guitar parts: plucked and strummed, electric and acoustic. But the real tastiness comes in at the 1:34 mark when the 12-string guitar highlights each bar and at the 1:47 mark when Grasshopper gives us his best “da-da-da-dada” to accentuate the finish. It caps off one of the finest songs ever committed to tape, at least, in my ever so humble opinion.

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