"TITANIUM EXPOS…"
by SONIC YOUTH

Like "Disappearer" and "Kool Thing", "Titanium Exposť" made its first known appearance in an instrumental solo set Thurston did at the Knitting Factory in NYC, circa mid-1989. Unlike "Disappearer", the structure of the song was already effectively solidified, though it had three shorter verse/chorus blocks compared to the two longer verses that the band would settle on when recording their 8-track demo at Waterworks studio in November 1989. J Mascis, assisting with production on the demos, accidentally gave the song its title after he misheard something and stated "Titanium Exposť?", a non-sequitor that replaced whatever its working title had been. This version of the song is a tight 4:45 with no extended noise outro. For some reason I always think of Goo as being full of really long songs, but a quick scan of the track list and times debunks this idea. Five of the eleven tracks are under four minutes, and only three exceed six minutes ("Mote" is the longest by over a minute, clocking in at 7:36). The closing number, "Titanium Exposť", has a 6:26 running time, but with a 23-second noise intro and over 90 seconds of feedback at the end, the song itself is actually shorter than "Dirty Boots" or "Disappearer".

As discussed earlier this month, Goo has its fair share of shared vocals, perhaps to the greatest effect on "Titanium Exposť", where Thurston sings the verse and Kim sings the chorus. (I hear a lower voice beneath Thurston but neither J Mascis nor Don Fleming are credited with vocals on this track, and it doesn't sound like Lee to me, so maybe it's Steve...?) Unlike "Schizophrenia", each singer wrote their section, with Thurston's a nod to pillow love and Kim drawing further influence from LL Cool J by paraphrasing his hit "Jingling Baby". Curiously, the lyrics published on sonicyouth.com identify Kim's chorus as "Sugar babe, sugar babe, turn the TV / Turn it babe, turn it babe, can't you see me" but it seems pretty clear that she's singing "Shivering babe" and "tingling babe" if not "I'm shivering baby" at times (particularly on the 8-track demo). Thurston's verses are published in his excellent Stereo Sanctity collection, but sonicyouth.com is the only source for Kim's chorus. I'd always assumed it was correct, but some of her Washing Machine lyrics are also suspicious, so maybe she didn't submit official lyrics to the site?

The song was premiered in March 1990 along with the bulk of the Goo material, and made occasional set list appearances throughout the year. On the first leg of the North American tour, it was typically played mid-set, without the drawn out ending. For the European tour, it was often given encore status, where they would take the opportunity to drone the final chord for minutes on end. Sometimes Steve would come back in with a beat at the end of the song, similar to the pre-verse, then just stop while the guitars squealed. On the fall leg of the North American tour, it was usually back in the main set. One noteworthy version played on October 25th, 1990 in Dallas, Texas featured Lee singing the verses with Thurston, which is something I wish they had tried more often! While there aren't that many recordings available from the 1991 Neil Young & Crazy Horse tour, it doesn't seem like it was played very much, and the last known performance was in Osaka, Japan on April 25th, 1991. On the rare occasion that it was played, it was just as heavy and energetic as the album (well, almost - for whatever reason, the version on the album is slowed down so the guitars are a half step below E, unless they deliberately tuned that way). Since the song was cut from the encore of the November 3rd, 1990 Irvine show (replaced by "I Wanna Be Yr Dog"), no official live version exists.

Believe it or not, the song was actually a single...but not from Goo! In 1990, the Christian Slater film Pump Up The Volume featured "Titanium Exposť" on the soundtrack, and it was released as a promo 7" with Concrete Blonde's "Everybody Knows". It also has a music video, but that's true of every song on Goo - though Phil Morrison's clip has considerably higher production value than some of the other non-MTV vids. It combines fun 70s-style opening credits listing each member of "The Sonic Youth", following Steve on his hunt to "expose" the literal element of titanium, periodic table in hand. Lee sits on the sidewalk knitting, and Thurston and Kim deliver their vocals from opposite sides of a shared bed, with the TV on and the January 12th, 1991 edition of TV Guide on Thurston's chest (their cat Sweetface also makes an appearance!). A notorious scene of Thurston and Kim furiously making out to the song's high-speed instrumental is followed by footage from their Hoboken rehearsal space (where they wrote Goo and Dirty). This final scene, which plays out over the song's freeform noise coda, depicts imposters bashing around on the band's gear while the authentic Sonic Youth cheer them on. This ending was critical to the development of my SY Gear Guide, since so many of their guitars are visible. Originally released on the Goo home video, it was of course collected on the Corporate Ghost DVD in 2004, with separate commentaries by Sonic Youth and Phil Morrison.

Seriously, when I started research for the Gear Guide in 2000, I basically just watched every single SY video I had, from live bootlegs to music videos, and made a rapidly growing list of each individual guitar and what it was used for, eventually sorting them by brand or style and trying to cross reference everything to make sure I hadn't made any mistakes due to grainy, generated VHS tapes. Some may find other scenes from the "Titanium Exposť" video more stirring, but for me it was that final 90 seconds shot in their rehearsal space, a rare peek behind the scenes at the source of their magic. Seeing the arsenal of equipment they'd amassed after nearly a decade was awe-inspiring. I've snapped screenshots and identified the 36 instruments I've spotted, if you're interested:

In addition to classic Sonic Youth gear, there's also a recurring classic Simpsons merchandise theme running through the video, which is in itself kind of interesting. The show was still very new and it was already demonstrating a huge effect on the culture. This sparked a fun little moment in one of my favourite Goo tour shows, from August 7th, 1990 in New Haven, Connecticut - a fascinating, hilariously loose gig early in the tour, carried by the running joke of whether Thurston's brother had arrived yet - when Kim interrupts the stage divers to make an announcement about a keychain she's found onstage: "It's Bart Simpson, and it says: 'And proud of it, man!' I don't know, this has got to be the only person who has this..." Then they launch into a sensational version of "Titanium Exposť". While her gently mocking tone plays on the popularity of the show, the band would of course find themselves in Springfield five years later.

The existing tab for the song dates back to 1993, with another undated (and uncredited) attempt. Both are in EGDGED, which Thurston confirmed via multiple sources is the correct tuning for the song, but Lee's part has never been included. Years ago, I'd originally thought Lee's tuning was GGDDGG, but came to realize he was tuning the low G down to E for this song (very apparent on some shows where they follow "Tunic" with "Titanium Exposť"). Raj Paden was kind enough to figure out Lee's part, and I've cleaned up Thurston's and the bass, so here we go! Please let me know if you have any comments or corrections.

 


 

"TITANIUM EXPOS…"

 

KIM EADG CENTER
THURSTON EGDGED RIGHT (DEMO: LEFT)
LEE EGDDGG LEFT (DEMO: RIGHT)

 

LAYOUT

INTRO - A - B - A - C - D - C - D - E - F - B - A - OUTRO  


INTRO					00:00-00:25

A SECTION				00:25-00:47

Thurston:

D---------------------------------------------------------------14b-14-14-14-14r---
E----------------------------------------------------------------------------------   play variation x 4
G------------------------14-------------------------------------14b-14-14-14-14r---
D-------14--------12--12-12--12-13-14-------14--------12--12-12--------------------
G-----------13-14-------------------------------13-14------------------------------
E---12----------------------------------12-----------------------------------------
                 
Lee:

G------------------------14-------------------------------------14b-14-14-14-14r---
G------------------------14-------------------------------------14b-14-14-14-14r---
D----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D-------14--------12--12-----12-13-14-------14--------12--12-12--------------------
G-----------13-14-------------------------------13-14------------------------------
E---12----------------------------------12-----------------------------------------

Kim:

G------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E---0-0--0-0-0-0-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3--12-12--12-12-12-12-15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15---

B SECTION				00:47-01:07

Thurston:

D----------------------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------------------
G-------9-----9---9-----9---12-12-12-------9-----9---9---8-8-8-10-10-10-10---   x 4 
D-------9-----9---9-----9---12-12-12-------9-----9---9---8-8-8-10-10-10-10---
G-------9-----9---9-----9---12-12-12-------9-----9---9---8-8-8-10-10-10-10---
E---0-0---0-0---0-----0---0------------0-0---0-0---0-------------------------
                 
Lee:

G-------9------9---9-9-9-9-12--12-12-12------9-----9---8-8-8-10--10-10-10-10---
G-------9------9---9-9-9-9-12--12-12-12------9-----9---8-8-8-10--10-10-10-10---
D-------9------9---9-9-9-9-12--12-12-12------9-----9---8-8-8-10--10-10-10-10---
D-------9------9---9-9-9-9-12--12-12-12------9-----9---8-8-8-10--10-10-10-10---
G-------9------9---9-9-9-9-12--12-12-12------9-----9---8-8-8-10--10-10-10-10---
E---0-0----0-0---0-----------------------0-0---0-0---0-------------------------

Kim:

G-----------------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------------
E--12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-\15-15-15-15-15-15---

G-----------------------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------------------
E--12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12\14/11\13--13-13-13-13-13---

A SECTION				01:07-01:32

Everyone end on low E.

C SECTION				01:32-02:11

Thurston:

D------------------------------------
E------------------------------------
G------------------------------------
D---9----------------0--0-0--0-0-0--- x 6
G---9---9-9--9-9-9---0--0-0--0-0-0---
E---0---0-0--0-0-0-------------------

D---------------------7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7--------------------7-7--7-9b-9-9-9--9r--
E-------9-----9-------7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7------9-----9-------7-7--7-9b-9-9-9--9r--
G-------9-----9-------7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7------9-----9-------7-7--7-7--7-7-7--7--- x 2
D-------9-----9----7--7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7------9-----9----7--7-7--7-7--7-7-7--7---
G-------9-----9----7--7-7--7-7-7-7-7--7------9-----9----7--7-7--7-7--7-7-7--7---
E---0-0-0-0-0-0-0--0---------------------0-0-0-0-0-0-0--0-----------------------

Listen for how he changes the riff to add the high notes, it's kind of subtle.
(And I don't think I tabbed it 100% correctly...)
                 
Lee:

G---9---------7-------
G---9---------7-------  go back and forth between these chords
D---9---------7-------
D---9---------7-------  x 8
G---9---------7-------
E---0-----------------

Kim:

G---16--------------------------
D-------------------------------
A-----------17-17-17-17-17-17---
E-------------------------------

D SECTION				02:11-02:24

Thurston:

D---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G------------------------------------------------------------------------11br~~---  x 2
D-------------------------12--12-12-12-9-------------------------12-12-9----------
G---9-9-12-12--9-9-12-12-------------------9-9-12-12--9-9-12-12-------------------
E---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 
Lee:

G---------------------------------------------------------------------11br---
G---------------------------------------------------------------------11br---
D-----------------------12--12--12--9----------------------------------------
D-----------------------12--12--12--9----------------------12--12--9---------
G---9-9-12----9-9-12--------------------9-9-12----9-9-12---------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kim:

G------------------------------------
D------------------------------------
A------------------------------------
E---12\15-15--12\15-15--12br-12-12---

C SECTION				02:25-02:59

D SECTION				03:00-03:13

E SECTION				03:14-03:27

Thurston:

D--------------------------------
E--------------------------------
G------------------------11br~~--    x 4
D-------------------12-9---------
G---9--9-12-12-11----------------
E---0----------------------------
                 
Lee:

G--------9--------9-----------------
G--------9--------9-9/7-------------
D----------9----9---9/7---7-7-7\9---
D----------9----9---9/7---7-7-7\9--- x 2
G---9--9----------------------------
E---0--0----------------------------

Kim:

G-------------12--12---
D----------------------
A---------------------- x 4
E--12--12--------------

F SECTION				03:38-03:55

Thurston:

D---9~----9-9-9-9/7~---7-7-7-7\9~~--                                                    -------
E-----------------------------------  thurston repeats a figure like this        end on --*5*-- w/ bar
G---9~----9-9-9-9/7~---7-7-7-7\9~~--   w/ heavy whammy bar accents                      -------
D----------------------------------- 						        -------
G---9~----9-9-9-9/7~---7-7-7-7\9~~--  focus mostly on the middle G string notes         -------
E-----------------------------------                                                    -------

Lee attacks random notes with extreme whammy bar + bends. He seems to stick between the 15th-20th frets.

Kim:

G-----------------------------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------- x 2
E--12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12--10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10---

G-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------------- x 2
E--12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-\15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15---

B SECTION				03:56-04:36

Play four times "slow", pause w/ low E drone, then play four times "fast".

A SECTION				04:36-05:05

OUTRO					05:05-06:26

text + tab by Chris Lawrence

special thanks to Raj Paden for Lee's part!
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