Friday, August 26, 2011

three songs. plus one.

Listening To: Charlie Darwin by The Low Anthem
Reading: Today's blog post from Jenny B. Jones which is inspiring and funny and smart. A must read, as the cool kids say.
Line Obsession: "Magda looks at me as if I've gone mad. Or I've grown up. It's kind of the same thing." (from The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab)
There are three songs I'm obsessed with today.
There are lots more than three. But three is a good stopping point. Three is odd and small, and yet, three has managed to find a special niche amongst list-making types. Three brings the quirk. Three brings the funk. Three might be odd. But three knows how to shake a tail feather.
... Where the french toast was I going with this?
Once I start liking a song, I can't let it go. I wear it out, listen to it over and over and over. I have an iTunes mix that has the same song on it at least 10 times. (For the sake of trivia, it isn't actually a song so much as an arrangement: "Ice Dance" from the musical adaptation of Edward Scissorhands. Which was only a West End thing, yes? You lucky, lucky Londoners.)
I don't tire of music very easily. Don't get me wrong, I most definitely have moments like this:

(In case you haven't seen the episode: the song "500 Miles" was stuck in Marshall's tape player for years, including the duration of a college road trip with Ted.)
I do sometimes get sick of songs.
However. When I find a song that I really, truly fall in love with, or when I rediscover a song after we've had some time apart (to rethink our priorities ... to see other people), I tend to keep it close to me for as long as I can.
Today's rotation:
The Weight of Lies by The Avett Brothers. There is so much I want to write about this song and why I love it. And what it inspired. It inspired something that is so near and dear to me right now. Like, an entire big-fat project that I love started because of this song. Because of the way they sing it. Because of the way their voices tangle with the words and the way the guitar and banjo blend together so strange and so fine. Because of the crickets singing in the background. Because this song is so summer: the summer you dream of running away. The summer you dream of finding your way back home again.
"The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town
Cause nothing happens here
That doesn't happen there.
So when you run make sure you run
to something and not away from
cause lies don't need an airplane to chase you anywhere."

Stones Under Rushing Water by Needtobreathe
I don't throw down statements like this too frequent-like, but here goes: these are some of the most beautiful lyrics I've heard in a ve-reh, ve-reh long time. And maybe I wouldn't be shivering over them so much if it weren't for the vocals. Or if the music wasn't arranged just so. Maybe what I love is the way he screams the lyrics; like he feels it and means it and knows it. Like he's in love and obsessed and the future and the present are crashing together into this one perfect song. And he's going to say it, dang it. He's going to stop thinking it and just say it, or scream it or, thank goodness, sing it. The harmony-part is heartbreaking. (Also, if I might be so girly, those Needtobreathe boys are just as adorable as they can possibly be, aren't they?)

England by The National
It's a storm. Something about the music and the lyrics remind me of a rainstorm; so strange and sad and pretty. And then the drumbeat pounds out like a heartbeat. And then, AND THEN!, Mumford & Sons covered the song on VH1 Unplugged, which I watched at The Rogue Accountant's apartment. While I dog-sat his fuzzy companion. And ate all of his strawberry popsicles.
Mumford & Sons have a very different vocal style. And the music isn't very similar (or maybe it is, but it doesn't sound that way to me) and it was still stunning. I love it when a song holds its shape against different music. When the song stays the same but it takes on a whole new meaning.
You must be somewhere in London
You must be loving your life in the rain ...

Tangent: I am absolutely 100% not made of steeze ... but I sometimes like to read about designers and look at pics of new lines and what not. And I'm so squealy over Elie Saab's runway shows. I definitely gawk over his work if I see it in a magazine, but I'm most smitten with the runway. His dresses are starry-looking. Very storybook. Listening to The National's "England" while watching this ... feels like a grown-up fairy-tale.
And those are my 3 songs for today.
Maybe. Or maybe not.
Okay ... I know I said three ... but I'm going to do one more.
Like most wonderful songs I cling to, I discovered this one via The Rogue Accountant. I hadn't heard it until we went to Oregon and Washington. And, as it happens, I heard "Charlie Darwin" for the first time when we were driving down the coast. So now, every time I hear it (which is A LOT), I think about sunsets and silver oceans. I think about walking on the edge of something wild and beautiful.
I've read some commentary on these lyrics, which I don't usually do. Just as I'd hoped, there's a heap of discussion about what they mean. Some people think there's an overt message against faith. And some people think the lyrics have to do with sincere faith vs. the kind of "religion" that sucks the beauty out of everything. Again, that doesn't matter so much to me. I don't know what the songwriters intended but, if songs are like stories, I don't think the experience the writer brings to it matters when it comes to how we apply it to our particular story and circumstance. So. This is what I like about the song:
I like the song because I think it speaks to a desire to pull away from all the fake and all the consumerism and all the "decay" in the world and intentionally seek out a better way to love people and listen to them and to try and understand them. There's got to be more than this. There's got to be a better way than this. It speaks to the moment we become intentional about seeking out something bigger and more mysterious. Something authentic.
I like the song because it speaks to dreamers. "Cast your reckless dreaming on our Mayflower." The world can be such a lonesome place for people who are brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves. But do press on, you reckless dreamers. The world is a more beautiful place because you're in it.
I like this song because, for me, it's asking: is it safe to wonder? Or, more accurately, am I safe to wonder? Has faith become such a list of rules, such a strict mandate of do's and do not's, that I've forgotten all about the love part? Which is, in fact, the only part that matters? This song reminds me to be daring enough to live in the tension, and the mystery, of what I can't understand. It reminds me that God isn't angry when I ask questions. That He doesn't leave me when I doubt. I question quite often, and not calmly. When I can't see what's ahead of me. When I feel like I'm going under. "If we are faithless, he remains faithful." (2 Timothy 2:13)
I think about stuff like that when I hear the song.
Mostly though, it just reminds me of this summer at ocean and the questions I carried there. I don't know if it was the music or the water that almost made me cry, but something sure did. I'll never forget it. I love hiding my memories in songs.
This is Charlie Darwin by The Low Anthem:
Care to share a song link in the comments? I'd love to know what you're listening to! Happy weekending to you :)


  1. I'm currently obsessed with Bon Iver's Skinny Love. I've listened to it over and over these past few weeks.

    I love England, the song, that is. London, and England, are like fairy tales themselves. Magical places.

    There's a verse in a Death Cab song that has been playing repeatedly in my head this week. It goes like this,

    "If you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born,
    then it's time to go and define your destination,
    there are so many different places to call home."

    I think those lines speak so much.

    (long rambling comment= over.)

  2. I love needtobreath. :))) More time and Haley are my favourites by them right not. I've been listening to nevershoutnever incredible amounts lately --


  3. first off i wanna say that i just love that quote from the near witch. also i love stones under rushing water, love. you must check out double trouble by jack and white, it's free on itunes this week!!!
    katie-bon iver's cool, my cousin loves him and when he was here made me listen...skinny love's my favorite.

  4. I did what you said. I watched the runway show while listening to the National. And it made me want to cry.

    Well played.

  5. Mmmmmm I love this post. You know the girl in the album version of "Stones Under Rushing Water" is Sara Watkins? Makes it exponentially awesome. I'm super psyched about their new album.

    I've been really loving some super-sad Ray Lamontagne and Fiction Family songs lately. Especially this one: There are better recordings of it on YouTube, but this one's got Sara Watkins on violin (catching a theme here?) :) My favorite line in this song is the part where he tells of "falling in what I now would call your bluff... please don't call it love."
    Don't worry. My super-sad playlist isn't a cry for help, it's just that pretty :)

  6. Wow, I love that England song. It does sound like a storm.

    I have been on a major Avett Brothers kick here lately. I bought Mignonette on iTunes the other day, so now I have three of their albums to keep on repeat. All the time. I love The Weight of Lies. But my two favorites right now are The New Love Song and Signs.

    I also just discovered Adele. Where have I been, right? I don't like all of her songs, but I do adore a few. Rolling in the Deep seriously makes me want to dance. Like 60s dance, which is a little scary. And I love Set Fire to the Rain.


  7. 1) 3 is my favorite number
    2) needtobreathe is my favorite and I'm counting down till their new album
    3) they're coming to Chatty in Oct I think, I posted it on Allie's wall and am so sick to my stomach that I'm going to miss them..
    4) I miss you tons!

  8. 5) have you heard the original of their song - Sara Watkins sings on it and it's even more beautiful
    6) I'm currently obsessed with Dolly Parton, anything of hers

  9. I already love London. Thanks for introducing me to it!