Ty Segall - “Die Tonight”
In late 2009, Ty submitted a playlist of five songs to an old blog project of mine called Five Tunes. Here were his first two choices:
1) The Soft Machine – “Save Yourself” (from The Soft Machine) – “This band is my all-time favorite psych band. Everything about this band is great. Except for their later records. Volumes one and two by The Soft Machine are 100 percent ESSENTIAL! The keys on this track rule.”
2) Jacques Dutronc – “Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi” (from Les essentiels) – “Mr. Jacques Dutronc is the sexiest French playboy pop star of all time. This song rules. His dance moves rule. Yes … Damn.”
He later points out his unironic love of Sabbath, but I thought this would be a good song to highlight his love of Dutronc’s natural cool and the clear-eyed psych of early Soft Machine. On “Die Tonight”, he exercises both a relaxed cool and an understated garage psych riff. And if the title and oft-repeated refrain don’t give it away, it’s a song about killing.
It’s very mellow take on a dire message: You’re gonna die tonight. You know who says “You’re gonna die tonight” in such a casual way? Actual killers. And with the exception of one consistent minor chord that hints at something deranged, it’s mostly upbeat major chords. It’s some ’60s garage Gacy shit.
It’s a smart way to play it, and it’s an easy highlight from Lemons. I’ve already talked about how Segall can cull a lot of mileage from a simple contrast, and this is one comes easy. And even if there’s something overwrought about the final lyric, it still works because it changes the entire song’s perspective:
And if I die before I wake,
My soul is yours to take.
With the finish, he twists a familiar couplet to admit guilt, in a strange way. He’s not saying that he’s wrong for what he’s doing—just that he knows he’ll be caught.
Death songs are commonplace in music history (Graeme Thomson’s history on the subject is an excellent primer), and “Die Tonight” doesn’t sound like it has the ambitious goals to reach the status of “John Barleycorn” or “Cop Killer”. But as an exercise in ’60s garage noir, it gets the job done.