The Making of Dinosaur Jr.’s You’re Living All Over Me
We’re here because You’re Living All Over Me is unquestionably one of the most important records in the development of alternative rock. This is a stone-cold fact. Four years before grunge catapulted underground music into the mainstream, Dinosaur Jr. laid out a practical blueprint for freaky, noisy “ear-bleeding country.” This is a style that has maintained its currency and continues to be particularly popular in contemporary music, even if it was more of an accidental invention for Dinosaur Jr., reflecting the trio’s enthusiasm for Black Sabbath and R.E.M.
The trio’s ’87 masterpiece also proved to be influential on artists like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive in the gestation of the shoegaze genre, so named for its copious use of guitar pedals to bend time and space. This, of course, led to post-rock, post-metal, metalgaze and, oh, about 35 years of musicians refusing to make eye contact during performances and interviews. Dinosaur Jr.’s most dramatic throughline to metal, though, might be that the band represents half of the lineup of legendary hardcore punk band Deep Wound, one of the earliest progenitors of what would become grindcore. You’re Living All Over Me is not a “metal” record by any stretch, but it absolutely pulsates with that type of energy on searing tracks like “Lose.”
Less than a year after this album’s release, bassist Lou Barlow got the boot and the band continued for a few more years with singer/guitarist J Mascis and drummer Patrick “Murph” Murphy as its anchors. Part of the enduring legacy of You’re Living All Over Me is its agelessness. J, Murph and Lou have way more gray hair, but it’s often hard to discern the differences between the path they started to chart as teenagers and the warm, welcoming albums they have recorded since reuniting in 2005. The three personalities in Dinosaur Jr. have always been willful and uncompromising. Despite the tension this kind of dynamic creates, they know that the music they are capable of making together represents a very singular vision.
You’re Living All Over Me is the most-fully realized vision of the original incarnation of Dinosaur Jr. The distortion/fuzz on the first 25 seconds of the album opener “Little Fury Things” and the stoned riff on “SludgeFeast” alone should earn Mascis an entry ticket to the guitar god pantheon. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Barlow and Murphy carry burners like “In a Jar” and, to a more cacophonous extreme, “The Lung.” Every song contains multitudes, even the comparatively obtuse lo-fi tape loop piece (“Poledo”) that Barlow put together to close out the album.
Mascis sums up the enduring appeal of the band best on “Raisans”: “I’ll be down, I’ll be around / I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be.” It’s a song about being rejected, but knowing that you’re where you belong. If You’re Living All Over Me doesn’t hook you immediately, you’ll come around.
Need more classic Dinosaur Jr? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with the members who performed on You’re Living All Over Me, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.