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VCV: Matthew Stubbs – “Pistol Whip”

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"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…"

TV theme songs have so become ingrained in popular culture you can actually buy compilations on CD of nothing but theme songs to classic (and not-so-classic) television shows of the past and present. It's one of those weird phenomena I've never understood akin to the hoopla around commercials at the Super Bowl.  People get so excited about them that day and fast forward through them two weeks later when they're still airing, forgetting how brilliant, funny, and cutting edge they were not so long ago. I guess Nikka Costa is right: everybody got their something.

So where was I?  Ah, yes.  Television theme songs!  I don't know what causes them to morph into peanut butter on the brain, but they do.  All I have to do is say, "Thank you for being a friend" and you will all be singing the theme from Golden Girls the rest of the day and cursing me because of it. 

The evocative power of sounds and pictures is a powerful one.   As a fan of instrumental music, I find myself trying to create stories to go with the sounds.  Sometimes I can't find one.  That doesn't mean I won't like the song; it's moving in some direction, just not one with visuals.  Other times, I feel myself being transported through space and time to a specific place.  I can see what I'm hearing.  Matthew Stubbs' "Pistol Whip" is one of those songs.

Most of your classic TV cop shows are either NY or LA.   I tend to think NYC when I think cop show because of hits like NYPD Blue and the enduring legacy of Law & Order but there was a time when the coolest cops hailed from the City of Angels.  "Pistol Whip" was written for those times and in my mind for those shows. 

It is a pneumatic tube to the SoCal; the surf beat from Chris Rivelli's drums creates a Pacific Ocean wave while  Stubbs' guitar tones are drenched with sounds that recall both the sexy sounds of the beach and the underworld of dames and men with fedoras and unfiltered cigarettes.  There's a queasiness in Stubbs' guitar sound that foretells of morbid happenings yet to come.  The best part is there is no maudlin chorus to get stuck in your head so when you find yourself humming "Pistol Whip" it will be with a smile on your face.

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About Josh Hathaway