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Hit the Ground

Portland's (and 6gig's) song of the decade
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  December 22, 2009

 

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MAKING A SONG FOR THE AGES 6gig, way back when.

How do you pick a song of the decade? A song is such a personal thing. It is so much easier to list favorite songs than best songs. If albums are works of art, songs are largely brush strokes and color choices. They are why we have one-hit wonders: Even a terrible band can write one great song. And our favorite songs are those that remind us of first dates and last calls, songs that come to mind with just a smell, those that we can sing along with at the top of our lungs with the top down. (I still put Men Without Hats' "Pop Goes the World" on mixes, if only because it reminds me of listening to the song on 45 with my sister on our plastic Playskool record player when I was 12.)

More Decade in Review

READ: " Local luminaries’ picks: A sample of other ‘best songs of the 2000s’ "

READ: Charlie Gaylord's " Albums of the decade: 10 discs you should own "

READ: " Growing Maine culture: A look back at the highlights of the decade "

But "Hit the Ground," released by 6gig in October 2000, the second track on their debut Tincan Experiment, is one of those rare, transcendent, undeniably great songs. It is so good that when Walt Craven heard Shawn Jeffries play Rig's demo version of it on WCYY's "Spinout," while driving around delivering pizzas following the demise of Goud's Thumb, "I was just like, 'That's exactly what I want to do,'" he says. The song itself made Craven get in touch with guitarist and original singer Steve Marquis, who with bassist Weave and drummer Dave Rankin had recorded that initial version of the song with Jonathan Wyman, and weasel himself into the band.

"I just called Steve up," Craven says, "and I can't even remember if he invited me or if I just sort of invited myself. I heard the song, I fell in love with it, it was what I wanted to do musically, and I just sort of invited myself over."

Of course, Craven was a guitar player. He'd never fronted a band. "When we first started," he remembers, "Steve was singing some songs and I was singing some songs. And I personally have never been a fan of bands with multiple lead singers . . . so I just suggested me singing all the songs, and Steve was cool with it, and I just sort of started singing it. And I think that he just let that go because I think that those guys could see that spark in my eye or hear something in my voice. They were all encouraging about it and just said, 'Let's do it.'"

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