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Verse Chorus Verse: Toad The Wet Sprocket – “Little Heaven”

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After high school and on and off throughout my college years, I worked at Blockbuster Video and just a few weeks ago I got news that two of the stores where I spent the most time are being closed. It's like 10 years of my life – college took awhile – is vanishing. I no longer live in those cities and haven't seen those stores in forever but there was something comforting about them continuing on much like they had before and after me. I was surprised, but I was kind of depressed about knowing they were going away.

It's hard to believe I'm going to someday have to explain to people what it was like to go to a video store. For those of you have, you're familiar with the preview tapes that are played on the TV monitors in the store (it's like the previews at the movie theaters, for those of you under the age of, what, 10?). For the customer, even if you came to the store regularly you probably didn't see the same preview more than once. It was a completely different story for employees. There was no escape from them. You get one trailer, per month. If you work three-to-four six-hour shifts over the course of a week, you will hear the same movie advertisements approximately 18-24 times in a week. Those previews got permanently imprinted in our minds whether we wanted them to or not. We don't memorize them by choice. Those trailers are relentlessly embedded in our mindguts.

Before Buffy The Vampire Slayer became a TV cult favorite, it was a (probably dreadful) movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry. When Buffy came to video, which I should note was about 15 minutes after it was released in theaters, we got a tape that had a trailer for the movie. During a scene in which Buffy is at a high school dance, a clip of "Little Heaven" is played. For years, I had no idea that little sound clip was a Toad song.

I was far too cool to watch anything with Puke Perry. I was far too cool to watch a campy high school vampire movie. I never watched the movie and was not going to be caught dead buying the soundtrack to said movie. It wasn't until Toad released their rarities set In Light Syrup that I put all of this together.

The movie was released the summer of 1992. It showed up on videotape August 1993. Syrup was released in 1995. Two years later, within the first two or three seconds I could still immediately connect that song clip to the Buffy trailer.

It's a great song, and it should have been included on a proper record. It deserved a much kinder fate than Buffy- well, at least kinder than the Buffy movie. Dean Dinning and Todd Nichols' haunting, droning harmonies give the song a hypnotic ambiance. The song washes over you, slowly, like "riding waves of doubt." I don't know if it is because of the Buffy trailer, but I rarely listen to this song just once. When I listen to it, as I did today, it's on repeat.

"Little Heaven" is the antidote to the curse of Buffy.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    The curse of the Buffy movie, you mean. I know you made the distinction a couple of times, but it can’t be made often enough!

    I didn’t remember Toad having a song in the Buffy movie, but then again, that movie sucked (unlike the show). I do like this song, but I first heard it on In Light Syrup.

    Nice story, as always.

  • http://blogcritics.org/music Josh Hathaway

    Thanks, Phillip. I never watched the TV show because I just couldn’t. I think the movie stained that for me, too. We did finally watch Firefly though and loved it.

    The trailer for the movie played “Little Heaven” during a scene at a dance in the movie. That could have just been the trailer, but I heard the same clip of that song for over a year before I knew it was a Toad song. Then I bought Syrup and it was this huge revelation. It remains an absolute favorite of theirs for me.

  • will

    Saw the movie once and hated it, but I bought In Light Syrup and instantly fell in love with the song. Really, really powerful. Thanks for spotlighting it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/music Josh Hathaway

    I never got through the entire movie, but loved Toad and was presently surprised when I bought Syrup to learn that song and that movie went together.

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