Out There is on an unimpressive studio album called Where You Been.
I got into Dinosaur Jr in 1988 because I was told to by the Melody Maker. I bought Bug and loved Freak Scene.
The guitar noise was visceral and mixed to be very loud, and J Mascis' tuneless drawl complimented the whole thing beautifully.
After Bug, Dinosaur Jr recorded and released a cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven. I have no idea why, but it raised their profile a bit.
I read a few interviews with J Mascis and got the impression he was not the greatest talker.
I knew I liked Dinosaur Jr, but I didn't love them.
When Where You Been came out in 1993, I bought it. My life is plagued by albums I have bought with One Good Song on them. Where You Been is in that category, but it was that One Good Song which made me fall in love with Dinosaur Jr.
Out There is a towering piece of music. It starts with a scratchy rhythm guitar riff. Before the end of the fourth bar, a blistering crash bangs the rhythm guitar out of the way and the lead line takes you up to the opening vocal. It's already so loud it hurts.
Out There is in a minor key and has a sombre edge. After years of listening to it, I thought it might be interesting to know what it's about. I was made aware it was about J's departed father, but I can't find any corroboration for that on google. Nonetheless it helped me make sense of the refrain:
I know you're out there
I know you're gone
You can't say that's fair
Can't you be wrong?
After chorus 1, the riff resets and we embark on verse 2, followed by chorus 2.
So far so normal.
After chorus 2, at 2m37s, something weird happens. The lead guitar chooses a new route and, seemingly at will, induces a middle eight key change, which J's voice (flat and weak at the best of times), patently can't handle. J goes for it anyway. It's strangely affecting. One of the guitar parts starts chiming sevenths, like bells. It's haunting.
The middle eight finishes. In the final bar the lead guitar climbs down into the original key. The riff returns, but now it doesn't sound so scratchy - it's bounding along, almost swinging, straight into verse 3. Verse 3 - which begins at 3m11s - is sonically the same as verses 1 and 2, but feels different. We've gone through something together. We're now there, ready for anything.
Verse 3 finishes. At 3m38s, the Greatest Guitar Solo Ever begins.
Imagine having such supernatural control of an inanimate object you could make it come alive with your bare hands. That is what J Mascis is doing with his guitar in this solo. It is lyrical and soulful and electrifying and loud and poignant and heartfelt and tuneful and sombre and beautiful and clear and fuzzy and spontaneous and you can't help but think: "This is quite good."
After transporting you with its brilliance for a full minute, it turns away, apologises, and remembers it has to prepare the ground for a second middle eight. And this is what makes it the Best Guitar Solo Ever. Instead of stopping at the point the second middle eight starts, the solo just ploughs on through. The chiming overdub returns, the vocal returns - stretched, flat, but somehow triumphant, and underneath, the solo keeps going, pulling down the stars. It's dazzling. Impossibly good. A technical skill allied to a noise very few people on the planet are capable of making, but subsumed into the structure of the song. There for a reason.
The final 1m14s of Out There is a glorious collision of terrible vocals, terrifyingly good technical skills and a thumping, thumping climax to an already draining near six minute epic.
Have a listen. It's quite good.