How Pavement Launched the Web

How Pavement Launched the Web

September 21, 2022 Off By John Cargile
Pavement in the 90s. Photo: Matador Records
Pavement, back in the day… (Photo: Matador Records)

Thirty-odd years ago, Pavement took the world by storm after a series of 7 inch records, the Perfect Sound Forever ep, and a demo tape that would become Slanted & Enchanted. These classics were the fuel that blasted this act into the heart of 90s indie, and on to a rock ‘n roll legend. But did you know that Pavement is the reason we have the internet? Sit back a spell and let me tell you a story, true in every sense of the word.

Without Pavement, there would probably be no internet. It’s true, kids.

I was not one of the cool insiders who got a copy of the Slanted & Enchanted bootleg way back when. Heck, I blew my chance at being a college dj after a disc jockey training session turned into a rock ‘n roll car wreck – a true debauchery. But I had music magazines and groups of friends, all of whom shared love of bands like Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, and other soon-to-be heroes. One of those magazines, Spin, featured Pavement in its Vol. 7 No. 12 issue as the lead review, where Erik Davis pointed out that “..on Slanted, Pavement makes things happen where it never has before.” High praise, indeed.

And boy, did they ever.

The release garnered widespread praise and Spin selected it as the Album of the Year, ahead of Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, Sonic Youth‘s Dirty, and Arrested Development’s 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life – three albums that also defined the 90s. I mean, everyone was loading up on CDs and playing the heck out of the sounds found at the local Camelot Music.

“..on Slanted, Pavement makes things happen where it never has before.”

Pavement in the 90s. Photo: Matador Records
Swank, personified in the band Pavement. (Photo: Matador Records)

“In the Mouth a Desert” is what I wanted to hear after getting that Pavement compact disc. We listened to the music in the sun all across the country.

But imagine just playing the same CD or tape over and over for months, even years on end. That’s what it was like, so Pavement and Silver Jews (RIP David Berman) discs just stuck in my computer music tray and I listened all day long at my software industry job.

Yeah, we had just launched Software Business magazine for executives who had programmers creating applications, and the horizon of the technology was coming into view. When I first started, one of the other editors had just come on board from Boardwatch. He showed me how to view bulletin boards and got us set up with email. Our IT guy was an amazing fella who was also a mailman. But we had email.

Now – what to do with it? People were starting to use Compuserve and even businesses were setting them up. But college students and professors were getting email. Still, what do we do with it?

Select people used it to find information, send love stories, and other limited but practical uses.

Then I ran across a thing called the Pavement Mailing ListServ. It was reason enough to get an email, even at 14.4 bds. This brought together music connoisseurs (snobs?) who loved Pavement.

College students and professors were getting email. Still, what do we do with it?

It wasn’t today’s online world of influencers and arguments.  This was a sweet digest of social commentary, short stories, shared music, gossip, and mundane buzz on the boys from Stockton. At least a lot was about them. But these smart people from around the world really blazed a trail for online communities and content.

In Pavement’s hit song Gold Soundz singer SM delivers the historic line “I keep my address to yourself, ‘Cause we need secrets, crets, crets, crets…” to let his crowd know they are in the know. I genuinely thought he was talking to me. Like keep it on the list. They were the ones I related to.

Life events were celebrated. Fantasy basketball leagues were joined.

This mailing listserv delivered an amazing report of our favorite band playing Kentucky Cocktail on the John Peele Show, and promised to send us a burned CD or tape of it.

Nearly every show was reviewed by someone and other acts were shared throughout the crowd. 

But there was so much more coming from this crowd. Going to a foreign country? Get tips on the best place to hear indie rock in Paris or go by Easley Studios in Memphis.

How about the equipment used to deliver the Pavement sound? Someone on here would help you set it up. Life events were celebrated. Fantasy basketball leagues were joined. 

This little spot taught me the possibilities of what would eventually come around with the internet. Coupled with running the software industry magazine, this world showed me a sea change – the whole changed.

One of my most cherished memories of this time was holding an industry conference and trade show which was attended by Christopher Knight. Knight had moved from The Brady Bunch to software executive. It was a time to shape the world with this new industry, and Peter Brady was coming with us.

This Pavement listserv was the heart of all the possibilities of communication, information, humor, applications, education, and fun that the world wide web could deliver. And this was how Pavement ushered in that future, by launching the internet.

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  • John Cargile

    John Cargile teaches and DJs for hundreds of Denver yogis and his power yoga classes. His southern roots of soul and pop music melded with indie and dance music in Colorado over the years.