Andy Aldridge is the founder and editor of A Head Full of Wishes, an invaluable source of information for fans of Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Luna. Aldridge started the website in late 1994 after being given some free web space, having decided that what the internet needed back then was a Galaxie 500 (and related bands) fan site.
He says that a lot has changed in the last 28 years: social media, Wikipedia, Discogs, Setlists.fm and many other sites and services have had an impact on the fan site and many great ones have fallen by the wayside – “that it still exists is down to a fantastic fan-base and the fact that I’d have no idea what else I’d do if I didn’t have A Head Full of Wishes to fill my time.”
His top 10 Galaxie 500 songs are below, a list which would be “different if I wrote it today, and different again tomorrow, but hopefully it gives some insight into why I am still doing what I do”.
10. “When Will You Come Home” (from On Fire, 1989)
To me, “When Will You Come Home” feels like the most Galaxie 500 of all Galaxie 500 songs – it has all the ingredients in perfect measure – while it’s not the top of this list, it might be the one I’d keep if I were only allowed one Galaxie 500 track for the rest of my life.
9. “Sorry” (from This Is Our Music, 1990)
The lyrics for “Sorry” were written by Damon and Naomi, but that first verse sounds like Dean’s had enough of the band – “well I’m sorry about the weather, and I’m sorry that the drive was much too far, seems like everything is business, and we’re sorry all the time” – maybe if I’d listened closer to This Is Our Music I wouldn’t have been surprised (and would therefore have been less heartbroken) at the band’s demise.
8. “Oblivious” (from Today, 1988)
I set up A Head Full of Wishes as a website in 1994 and a mailing list in 1995, and finally found myself among other Galaxie 500 fans. Suddenly I had tapes of live shows and demos, I had photos and posters sent to me, and I had someone point out that Dean says “I’m hyperventilating” in the fade-out of “Oblivious”. I made friends, real friends. Galaxie 500 are even responsible for the path my career took. I’m hyperventilating.
7. “The Other Side” (from Uncollected, 1996)
When I try to find positives in Galaxie 500’s demise (and there are a few), right near the top of the list is that Naomi sings on half of Damon & Naomi’s songs but only got to sing on a handful of Galaxie 500 ones. “The Other Side” first saw the light of day on a demo tape the band sent around in 1987 but never made it onto any of their albums. It was lost until it appeared on the bonus disc in the Ryko box set in 1996. It’s a little raw but Naomi’s fragile delivery is painfully beautiful.
6. “Pictures” (from Today, 1988)
Picking a top ten Galaxie 500 songs isn’t easy, so sometimes you have to resort to less obvious criteria to help make those choices. “Pictures” has the lyric “maybe my head’s full of wishes” – it’s where my website got its name from. Reason enough to be in my top 10. It probably would be anyway.
5. “Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste” (from Today, 1988)
I was going to try and avoid including covers in my top 10 but it’s hard to think of this as a cover at all – they’ve turned Jonathan Richman’s 90 second acapella song into something that, while recognisably the same song, is completely Galaxie 500, all six and a half minutes of it! The version on the Copenhagen live album in particular is … huge.
4. “Blue Thunder (w/sax)” (from Uncollected 1996)
Oddly, quite a lot of people don’t like the version of” Blue Thunder” with the saxophone. I actually think the one without sax is just not finished. Ralph Carney asked Kramer [Mark Kramer, producer] what key the song was in, Kramer replied “you’ll know”.
3. “Tugboat” (from Today, 1988)
My natural, and occasionally obsessive, contrariness meant that Tugboat had quite a battle to get in this list. Surely no one could leave “Tugboat” out of a Galaxie 500 top ten, so I decided that I could. But then I listened to it again. Turns out it’s true, no one can leave “Tugboat” out of a top 10. So, I didn’t.
2. “Summertime” (from This Is Our Music, 1990)
There’s a widely held opinion that This Is Our Music is Galaxie 500’s weakest album – I may have occasionally subscribed to that opinion at some point in the past – but seriously, an album that has “The Fourth of July”, the divine cover of Yoko’s “Listen, The Snow is Falling” and the sublime “Summertime” surely can’t be at the bottom of any heap? Summertime is a blissful, sun-soaked swoon – and a lot of what makes it great is Damon’s drumming – seriously, close your eyes and wallow in it. Best album? It’s a three way tie.
1. “Snowstorm” (from On Fire, 1989)
The Galaxie 500 survey has been held every year since 1995 and fairly consistently more people from the UK have voted for “Snowstorm” as one of their favourite tracks than from any other country. In last year’s survey, for example, 50% of voters from the UK voted for “Snowstorm” as opposed to just 17% of voters from the US. For a short period of time in the late 80s and early 90s non-mainstream music had the chance to get on telly – on The Late Show, or Rapido or Snub TV – these were shows on a national terrestrial TV station (BBC Two). In January 1990 Galaxie 500 appeared on Snub TV – there was a short interview followed by a particularly awesome live clip of them playing “Snowstorm”. Now I have no evidence to back this up but I reckon that the UK’s love for “Snowstorm” was born in the early evening of 26th January 1990 on BBC Two. I’m in the UK and it’s my favourite Galaxie 500 track.
ABOUT GALAXIE 500
Galaxie 500 was an influential American rock band, made up of Dean Wareham (vocals, guitar) Naomi Yang (bass), and Damon Krukowski (drums). The band formed in Boston in 1987 and broke up in 1991, and released three albums during its existence: Today (1988), On Fire (1989), and This Is Our Music (1990). Also of note in the discography: Galaxie 500 box set (1996), Uncollected (1996), Peel Sessions (2005), and This Is Our Music & Copenhagen (2010).
Members of Galaxie 500 have subsequently performed and recorded solo and in other groups (including Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Luna).