Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions feature 5 songs that
spoke sang to me at the start of today and have been speaking singing to me ever since. The first song is from Anna Calvi. I’ve been digging Anna’s 2018 album, Hunter, since it came out – mostly turning up and singing-a-long to “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” and “Alpha”, but today I’ve been swaying to the melancholic dream-pop sound of the title track.
Next is another pre-album single release from The National. This one got to me. Deeply. I listened as I drove through Silverlake this morning, the sky was hazy, the air warm. It reminded me of a not-so-past pain and brought unexpected tears. Some pain that I believe to be gone forever sneaks up on me some days. Today was one of those days. This new album is going to be something else.
The mood swayed to the other side, lightening up in an “I should be on the beach on vacation” kind of way, with Phosphorescent’s effervescent sounding track, “New Birth in New England”. Today has been pretty stressful, so this airy, dreamy, indie-pop tune has definitely been an aural help.
George Harrison (a.k.a. my favorite Beatle) has one of those voices that almost always soothes me. “If Not For You” is one of my all-time favorite solo songs of his, and was just what I needed today.
Last, but not least, is a track off of T Bone Burnett’s new solo album (the first in 12 years). It is part of a trilogy and based on a long poem. This is gorgeous. A little bit discordant, a little bit ambient, a little bit cinematic, and a little bit “throwback”. I can’t wait to listen to the rest.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – April 8, 2019
1. “Hunter” by Anna Calvi
from the album, Hunter (2018)
“The bodies and the rhythm,
and flowers in my hair.
The red light on the leather;
nothing will compare.”
The title track from Anna Calvi’s fantastic 2018 album. I was going back to it this morning, doing some re-discovery listening, and got caught up with this track. I can’t get enough of it today.
The video is all-out sexy, but definitely not safe for work. Gorgeously sensual though. It makes the song less melancholic, and more seductive.
Anna is a fascinating artist. I’d love to see her play live.
The music and the visuals feel a bit like performance art and cabaret. Something about it reminds me of Dresden Dolls, back when they first came around.
2. “Light Years” by The National
from their upcoming album, I Am Easy To Find (coming in 2019)
“You were waiting outside for me,
in the sun,
laying down to soak it all in,
before we had to run.
I was always ten feet behind you,
from the start.
Didn’t know you were gone,
’til we were in the car.”
I’m a sucker for piano. Sad piano especially gets to me, tears me open, rips me apart. From the start of this song, before Matt Berninger vocals started, I could feel the prickle of tears in my eyes.
And then the lyrics, and the ache in Matt’s voice.
It reminds me of the last day. That Friday. The sun starting to go down. The ocean was so close. It was all so unexpected. So cold. So shock-sudden. Like ripping off a band-aid. In a moment everything changed.
It was for the best. That I know for sure. But it hurt nonetheless. It felt like being erased. It felt like all of it was just erased. I never felt comfortable. I always did feel ten feet behind. But there were moments, and I thought that they mattered. That I mattered.
Sometimes we don’t matter at all.
3. “New Birth in New England” by Phosphorescent
from the album, C’est La Vie (2018)
“She said, “‘Don’t I know you?
Honey, don’t I know you?
Honey, don’t I know you?'”
A feel-good song for certain. Thank you, Phosphorescent. Some of your songs make me cry, but this one…well, this one makes me sway, smile, and sing-a-long.
Reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, if Paul and Art went a little indie-pop with “Cecilia”, driving her down to Echo Park to ride the paddle boats and drink over-priced lattes.
It could happen.
4. “If Not For You” by George Harrison
from the album, All Things Must Pass (1970)
“If not for you my sky would fall,
rain would gather, too.
Without your love,
I’d be nowhere at all.
I’d be lost if not for you.”
One of my favorite love songs from my favorite Beatle.
I used to love Olivia Newton John’s version of this song when I was a young girl, too. I still do really, but not as much as I love George singing it.
Though I was a very wee thing in 1970, I still feel like this song, and this album, was around me a lot.
It feels part of my DNA. Part of my musical muscle memory.
And, I’m so glad for it.
I love the album All Things Must Pass – it is definitely one of my all-time favorites.
5. “Anti Cyclone” by T Bone Burnett, Jay Bellerose, and Keefus Ciancia
from the album, The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space (2019)
“If you tell people what they already believe,
they will believe you.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean a word you say.
And, it doesn’t matter if what they believe is true,
or have extreme view.
To the thieves who can speak from both sides of their mouth,
this is child’s play.”
Chilling lyrically, musically stunning. A fusion of trance, electronic, ambient, folk, tribal, global, and something very old-time cinematic. Close your eyes and I see an old, oversized organ, a carnival in the background, and a black-and-white silent film aesthetic.
I’m looking forward to hearing this entire piece of work, and the other two parts of the trilogy coming in the future.
Ride a swan with Phosphorescent
TOP 5 MUSIC OBSESSIONS – WEEK OF APRIL 8, 2019
Today’s re-launch/birthday Top 5 Music Obsessions feature a set of 5 songs that I’ve been obsessing over all month. The Top 5 starts out with Hatchie’s new track pre-released, and to be included on her upcoming album, Keepsake.
From there the Top 5 slides into another early track from an upcoming release, this time from The National, a favorite band of mine. “You Had Your Soul with You” took a little time to sink in with me, but once it did it moved into heavy “commute to work” rotation.
Phoebe Bridgers comes in next with one of my favorite tracks off of her 2017 album, Stranger in the Alps. Phoebe’s tune flows perfectly into “UFOF” by Big Thief, yet another pre-release from a “coming in 2019” album. I’ve been into Big Thief since I first heard “Shark Smile”, which led me to their 2017 album, Capacity.
And last, but definitely not least, how about we hear one more track/preview from an upcoming album? This time from The Dove and The Wolf, the French duo who I fell in love with back when I saw them open for Butch Walker. Paloma and Louise of The Dove and the Wolf have harmonies that will slay you dead – in the very best of ways. If you haven’t fallen in love with them yet, trust me…you will.
So, are you ready to give these five a listen?
Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 23, 2019
1. “Without a Blush” by Hatchie
from the album, Keepsake (coming in June of 2019)
“If I could kiss you one more time,
would it make everything alright,
or would it just make me a liar?”
Hatchie (Harriette Pilbeam) is an Australian singer-songwriter and musician who I discovered last year when I stumbled on her EP, Sugar and Spice. “Without a Blush” is one of my most played songs (so far) of March 2019. I included the track on a playlist I made for myself, as well as one I recently made for my best friend.
“Without a Blush” was the opening track for both playlists – as well as the opening track to today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions.
I love the dreamy vocals and indie-pop sensibilities of this track. It’s so catchy that I found myself singing-a-long after only a few listens. And before I knew it, I was waking up with it in my head, and seeking it out to play as I’d start my ride to work every morning.
2. “You Had Your Soul with You” by The National
from the album, I Am Easy to Find (coming in May of 2019)
“I had only one thing to do,
and I couldn’t do it yet.
I had only one thing left,
and I couldn’t see it yet.”
I was beyond excited when I saw that there was a new song from The National. I pressed play immediately and was immediately unsure. There was something about the opening sound that threw me off. A different sound then I expected. It was a bit jarring, at first. And, there was also something new about the vocal production that I wasn’t 100% signed on with. And then…and then…and then…after a few plays, and a few more, it got me, and I got it – we musically got each other.
The addition of Gail Ann Dorsey, who previously worked with David Bowie, is a brilliant choice. I hope we hear more of her on other tracks from their upcoming album. Once she started singing I knew I had to hear the song again. Her voice, with Matt Berninger’s, is some kind of magic.
If this song doesn’t hit you immediately, don’t give up on it. Honestly give it a few listens, one of them turned up loud, preferably in your car, at night, if you can. “You Had Your Soul with You” is a grower, but I bet it will get you/get to you quickly, too.
3. “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers
from the album, Stranger in the Alps (2017)
“I hate you for what you did,
and I miss you like a little kid.
I faked it every time,
but that’s alright.
I can hardly feel anything.
I hardly feel anything at all.”
I like the concept of emotional motion sickness. I relate to the idea, and I’ve felt that way myself through the start of this year, and during a lot of the last. Sometimes I feel like my emotions have been turned up high, and thrown into a rinse and spin cycle. Or like I’ve been strapped to a never-ending carnival ride, the kind that goes up and down, and around in circles, all at once.
Meditation and mindfulness have helped some. If nothing else I’m becoming more aware of my emotional “Motion Sickness“. I’m trying hard to find, and maintain safety and stability, and master the ability to swim through my feelings. I’m working on my own personal form of Dramamine (motion sickness medicine).
4. “UFOF” by Big Thief
from the album, UFOF (coming in May of 2019)
“Just like a bad dream,
I stumbled on Big Thief, and the song “Shark Smile”, through a Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist. I obsessed over the track for a while, and then dove head first into their 2017’s Capacity. From there, I music-obsessed over so many Big Thief songs. When I heard recently they had a new track out I couldn’t wait to hear it.
The song, “UFOF”, did not disappoint. I love the intimacy of it. The quiet control, the dreamy-feel, the off-kilter sounds (some of them seeming and feeling alien), and the strong storytelling. Listen carefully to the lyrically told story of alien abduction. It sneaks up to you and sonically abducts you. No, I mean it.
As I listen now I find myself thinking of Agents Mulder and Scully, wondering if I could go back in time and insert this song into one of The X-Files episodes (maybe one involving Mulder’s daughter).
5. “Free Around You” by The Dove and The Wolf
from the album, Conversations (coming in May 2019)
“I feel free.
I feel free around you.”
The Dove and The Wolf’s music makes me sigh in dreamy delight. Their harmonies are angelic, and their overall sound is just so intimate and gorgeous. When I first saw them open for Butch Walker I could not get over how amazing they were (you can read my review here). I’m so glad they are making new music.
At times they remind me of Azure Ray, another duo I have big love for. At other times, its the harmonies of First Aid Kit that I’m reminded of. And then I think of some of the folk albums I used to listen as a young girl. The ones I borrowed from my Mother’s record collection. Albums from Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, The Mamas and the Papas, Peter Paul and Mary, and even Fleetwood Mac. There’s something in those albums and artists from the ’60s and ’70s that I recognize in “Free Around You”, and in The Dove and The Wolf’s music. Hypnotically beautiful stuff.
If you like this track I encourage you to seek out more from them. I will update the playlists weekly, for your listening obsessing pleasure.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 23, 2019
Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions were all songs I heard on my commute in this morning. They all mark different moments, and feelings, as I made my way through some sadness and pain, and turned it around to hope and a bit of a better mood. I’m still shaky and there are parts of me that are still sad, but I’ve decided to put it away in yesterday, put it in the past, and hang on to the good bits, the better mood, the hope, and so much love that I feel, more and more with each day. Sometimes the best coping skill is to get over things, move on, and not stop believing. That’s what I’m doing now…with a little help of 5 Music Obsessions of the Day.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Monday, September 17, 2018
1. “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan
from the album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1994)
is better than ice cream,
better than anything else that I’ve tried.
And, your love,
is better than ice cream.
Everyone here knows how to cry.”
I haven’t listened to Sarah McLachlan, or Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, in years. This was a big album to me in 1994, and for the rest of the 90’s, actually. I saw her sing this song three times at three years of Lilith Fair, and a few times when I saw her live on her own. I always loved this song, but never really felt a love that this song fit. Not until now.
Hearing this song randomly this morning made me cry, and then made me smile, and laugh. Ice Cream is one of our things. Last night when things were tough and we were both feeling the aftermath of a first fight, and when I was so deeply sad, he suggested that ice cream would make us feel better. It did help a little. And, this morning, hearing this song, and thinking of ice cream, and our love, I know having these “us” things helps. Like ice cream. But that his love is bigger and better than any frozen dessert could ever be. Even with crumbled up Trader Joe’s Windmill cookies on top.
2. “This Thing That I’ve Found” by The Autumn Defense
from the album, Fifth (2014)
“What is this thing that I’ve found?
And can I handle it?”
New music discovery alert, thanks to this week’s Spotify Discover Weekly Playlist.
It was the first track on this week’s Playlist, and I hit repeat three times after the first listen.
It reminded me how rare, wonderful, and big this love is that I found. It took almost fifty years. I really had given up ever finding anything like this. But, then I did. We did. And it is everything to me. We are everything to me. And yes, even on the rough days (and nights), I know I can handle it.
3. “To Be Completely Honest” by Dawes
from the album, All Your Favorite Bands (2015)
“So, you don’t need to say a word right now,
all your reasons would just flicker in the darkness.
Maybe that’s why nobody knows how,
to be completely honest.”
One of my favorite songs by Dawes. This one was hard to hear this morning, though. Last night was the first time I saw that there could be an end to us, that that might be what you wanted. And, to be completely honest, the feeling of it, of losing you, still hurts. I don’t want to ever revisit that feeling again. I hope I never have to.
4. “Fireproof” by The National
from the album, Trouble Will Find Me (2013)
Nothing breaks your heart.
How’d you get so far.”
I used to be fireproof. I used to be buried alive behind a brick wall. Like something out of an Edgar Allan Poe short story, except I’m the one who built that wall around me. It kept my heart from breaking. For years and years. But, it also kept my heart from really loving. It kept me from ever truly falling in love.
The fire may burn me now. My heart may break. But, I would never want to go back to being fireproof, and bricked up from feeling, and from love. Because honestly, no matter what, its worth it to love, to feel, to be yours. Forever, I hope.
5. “Bad Dreams” by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson
from the EP, Apart (2018)
Cover of “Worried” by The Echo Friendly
“Falling in love and getting over it,
and oh too fast.
I envy the futures of all my friends,
I get jealous about your past.
If it gets too close,
if it gets too much,
I’m scared I’ll disappear.
I might step back,
or go too far,
but I’ll wait for you right here.
Pessimistic as it seems,
sleep will never come that easy,
we will always have bad dreams.”
Watching the sky change colors through a fitful night of little sleep and bad dreams. I kept going through what happened, words that were said, and the fears that I have that I’m ever trying to quell. It’s hard when they get hit on in a way that my fears feel realized, feel true and all too possible. Losing him, and losing us, even though I worry about it, and even though my issues try to remind me of the possibility until last night I never really believed I could lose you, or lose us. Its hard to feel like I was wrong. Its hard to have heard the reality of it from your lips.
But, I’m determined to put it behind us. To believe it isn’t true. That it isn’t what you think, or want. Every time I fell asleep I had the same nightmare, the same bad dreams, that we were not what you wanted. That you were saying goodbye. But, those were words said in anger, and they were words that I am trying to believe were not true.
I’m determined to forget that it was ever spoken out loud. And, I’m determined to continue to push through my deep-rooted fears, and insecurities, and believe that we are forever. Because, in my heart, we are forever, and nothing will ever change that for me.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – Week of September 17, 2018
It’s time to walk on and get over you
A Monday Playlist
“To Wish Impossible Things” by The Cure
“Running Away” by Richard Ashcroft
“Nothing Lasts Forever” by Echo And The Bunnymen
“How Can You Be Sure?” by Radiohead
“The Songs That We Sing” by Charlotte Gainsbourg
“Aspects” by Paul Weller
“Sweet” by Cigarettes After Sex
“Damaged” by Primal Scream
“Let’s Stay Together” by Low
“Sugar For the Pill” by Slowdive
“Love” by Lana Del Rey
“Stuck On the Puzzle” by Alex Turner
“I Need My Girl” by The National
“Movies” by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson
“Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
“Tender” by Ruby Force
“Out of Time” by Blur
“Suspended In Time” by Juliana Hatfield
“Left and Leaving” by The Weakerthans
“Get Better” by Frank Turner
“Fire” by Anna Calvi
“I Want To Go To the Beach” by Iggy Pop
“All We Ever Wanted Was Everything” by MGMT
“Unreflected” by Mazzy Star
“I Don’t Believe In the Sun” by The Magnetic Fields
“Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)” by James
“Lola + Joseph” by July Talk
“last words” by isaac gracie
“Goddess On a Hiway” by Mercury Rev
“You Said” by Ryan Adams
It’s time to walk on and get over you
Blow up each memory to leave me in ruin
A Monday Playlist
“Crystal” by New Order
“Hey Sunrise” by The Charlatans
“Sonnet” by The Verve
“Bed On Fire” by Butch Walker
“Things” by Paul Westerberg
“Look at Miss Ohio” by Band Of Heathens
“Everybody Knows” by Ryan Adams
“Songs That She Sang In the Shower” by Jason Isbell
“Slow Show” by The National
“There Goes the Fear” by Doves
“Darklands” by The Jesus And Mary Chain
“Jean Jeanie” by The Dandy Warhols
“Life Is Strange” by T-Rex
“Its the End of the World” by Julie London
“Oh Yeah!” by Roxy Music
“Cure For Pain” by Morphine
“Last Nite” by The Detroit Cobras
“List of Demands (Reparations)” by The Kills
“Gold Lion” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Digging In the Dirt” by Peter Gabriel
“Anthem For a Doomed Youth” by The Libertines
“Baby’s Coming Back To Me” by Jarvis Cocker
“Make You Better” by The Decemberists
“Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush
“Made of Stone” by Matt Corby
“The Death of You and I” By Isaac Gracie
“Come Undone” by Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell
“Wild Is the Wind” by Nina Simone
“Maybe I’m Right” by Pete Yorn
“I Miss the Zoo” by Joseph Arthur
Blow up each memory to leave me in ruin
This morning is an emotional rollercoaster. I start with some upward movement. I can hear the click-click of the tracks as I rise. I turn the first song in my Top 5 Music Obsessions up loud. I scream-sing-a-long. I feel it. I believe it. I “convince myself”. But then I pause. Sometimes for just a quick blink. Eyelashes intersecting and splitting apart again. I feel the loss, the gap, the pain at the core of me. It feels like I’m missing a limb. I feel myself fall. Fast and hard. Then take the next curves too quickly. My breath catches and the tears fall. Reality goes upside down and I wonder for the thirteen-hundredth time. Is this just a bad dream?
And then that thing swirls in my head again. That feeling that I can’t confirm. It is blurry and off too far in the distance, and my glasses are still missing. But, something inside tells me my suspicions are true. The thought of it burns inside me. The pain is unbearable. It wants to take that upward crawl with all the click-clicks and let the anger loose. It’s in there somewhere. I know it is. But, I’m not ready for it. Not yet.
So I turn the music up even louder. I tighten my seatbelt. I put eyeliner on this time in the hopes that maybe I won’t cry again. I’m so fucking sick of crying. I try to “convince myself” again. I scream-sing-a-long and wait to go upside down again.
Top 5 Music Obsessions featuring Pete Yorn
May 24, 2018
1. For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is)” by Pete Yorn
“Convince yourself that everything is alright,
‘cos it already is.”
On repeat. Turned up loud. Sing it until I believe it.
2. “To Be Without You” by Ryan Adams
“It’s so hard not to call you.”
We talked all day, every day. We talked about all the big and little things that make up a person, a life, a day. How do I not ever talk to him again? How?
3. “Recovering the Satellites” by Counting Crows
“Maybe you were shot down in pieces.
Maybe I slipped in between.
But we were gonna be the wildest,
the wildest people they ever hoped to see,
just you and me.”
Yeah, we were.
4. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National
“I’m on a blood buzz,
God, I am.”
Just trying to get through the day. Just trying to breathe. This song is incredible turned up loud and driving with the windows’ down. It swirls and twists around me. For a moment all I feel is the music.
5. “Incredible” by Dramarama
“She calls me Moe,
and I call her Daddy-O.”
My daughter is discovering Dramarama. It was one of her dad’s and my favorite bands. I hear them playing in her room and for a moment I’ve transported so far away. It helps for a moment. To get away. Time travel through music. Its a thing.
Top 5 Music Obsessions for the Week of May 21, 2018
Thank you for the music Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams, Counting Crows, The National, and Dramarama. It helps. The music helps.
The first Song I heard today is a Song that came out today, an unexpected, brilliant pairing of Chvrches and Matt Berninger. Lauren Mayberry and Matt’s voices intersect and blend perfectly, adding a complexity and change in tone that elevates this second Track from their upcoming Album, Love is Dead. This Track has me even more excited for Chvrches new Album than I was before.
“My Enemy” by Chvrches, featuring Matt Berninger
from the Upcoming Album, Love is Dead (2018)
Before I even Pressed Play I knew I was going to love this Track. How could I not? I’m a huge fan of The National and Matt’s unmistakable Baritone Voice, and I’ve always loved Chvrches Indie Electo-Pop Sound. This is a delicious pairing of Genre and Sound that I am already obsessing over.
“And you could be my remedy,
if you could show me love.
If I could stop remembering all the time,
you used up.”
The Track is produced by Greg Kurstin, who worked most recently with Sia.
“We’ve all been huge fans of the National for a long time. We had played a few festivals together but really got to know Matt when we were involved in 7 Inches For Planned Parenthood, a fundraising and awareness campaign that he spearheaded. It’s really inspiring and reassuring to meet other artists you admire and realise that they are trying to do some good in the world. We kept in touch after that and, when it came time to record My Enemy, Iain and Martin suggested I email Matt to see if he’d like to sing on it. We never realistically thought he’d have time to do it but he replied right away and recorded the track at his house the next day.”
Tuesday is a little heavier than Monday felt. My emotions feel strung out and threadbare. I feel internally exhausted and in need of a mental vacation. Last night driving in the pouring rain with so many accidents in my path I felt my anxiety rise to levels I’ve not felt in a while. I know that attacks of that nature take it out of me and that the next day I feel emotionally hungover. I think that’s part of my Tuesday makeup. A rush of bittersweet memories has been blowing thru me today, as well. Music triggered, of course, though my subconscious probably has something to do with it, as well. Music and my subconscious, they like to get together sometimes and make out for hours, causing memories and past feelings to get stirred up and enunciated.Electrified emotive responses, that’s part of what I’m feeling today. The only thing to really do is Turn the Music up and breathe. Inhale and exhale the memories, the feelings, the static cling of the past, and get to the other side.
Today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions are indicative of how I’m feeling and experiencing the day. Song 1 is “Make This Go On Forever” by Snow Patrol. A best friend of mine put this on a February Playlist she made and listening to it I was reminded that the last part of the Song, the Lyrics and the way the pares down and becomes stark, always makes me cry. Today is no exception. “Day I Die” by The National is up next. I woke up in a National frame of mind as my Song of the Day today will attest, so I definitely needed one more Song. A new Tricky discovery is Track 3 of Today’s Top 5. “The Only Way”, which is labeled as the “Stripped Down Tricky” version, feels like a mix of Trip Hop and Dream Pop and is truly delicious sounding. “We Could Send Letters” by Aztec Camera is a trip back in time to 1983. Listening to it today I’m reminded of Belle And Sebastian. Last, but not least is one of my Favorite Songs from Dawes. The storytelling aspect of “That Western Skyline” is like a short story, the best in a collection, so vivid and beautifully heartbreaking. Lying back and listening close I can see it all plays like a Movie on the inside of my closed eyelids.
I hope this Tuesday is a good one for you and that your own Music Obsessions are filling you up. If it’s a rough one I hope there is Music to help you feel better. I know Music always does that for me – the best medicine there ever could be. Let me know what you think of these Top 5 Music Obsessions in the comments, and please share what’s playing in your world today, too.
Top 5 Music Obsessions of the Day – February 27, 2018
1. “Make This Go On Forever” by Snow Patrol
2. “Day I Die” by The National
3. “The Only Way” (Stripped Down Tricky Mix) by Tricky
4. “We Could Send Letters” by Aztec Camera
5. “That Western Skyline” by Dawes
I hope you enjoy this Tuesday’s Top 5 Music Obsessions. This week is shaping up to be one of my Favorite Top 5 Music Obsessions weeks, so far. Do you have a Favorite Song, so far?
Top 5 Music Obsessions for the Week of February 26, 2018
I woke up this morning with Matt Berninger singing in my head. This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. The National is one of those Bands whose Songs burrow under my skin and swirl around in my subconscious. The half soothing/half haunting baritone of Berninger’s voice plants Stories in me that are far and beyond the Songs themselves. I’ve felt that way since the first time I heard The National and was reminded of it again when I woke with “Slow Show” dangling off my tongue. I knew I’d have to Press Play and Listen to it as soon as I could. I knew I’d be singing-a-long.
“Slow Show” by The National
from the Album, The Boxer (2007)
I think one of the reasons that The National is one of my go-to Bands when I’m writing is because Berninger’s Lyrics are often so odd, veering between literal moments that you can identify, to odd descriptions and scenarios that are near impossible to pin down (“Bloodbuzz Ohio”, for example). When doing a bit of research on The National, and “Slow Show”, I found an article with Paste where he was asked about each Song on The Boxer, including “Slow Show”, and these Lyrics specifically:
“I wanna hurry home to you,
put on a slow dumb show for you,
and crack you up.”
That one’s actually kind of literal, wanting to get out of some anxiety-filled public situation, where there’s a party of something and you just want to escape and be home, close the doors with someone that you really care about and just be stupid and laugh. Forgetting about social pretenses and how you have to act in public, you can just be a fool with this person, you know, ugly and awkward and silly and they won’t judge you.
For me, it is this Lyric that stands out, and shakes loose a significant time and place in my memories:
“A little more stupid,
a little more scared,
every minute more unprepared.”
I’m reminded of a past relationship that was fraught with complications, long distance, and broken boundaries. I remember feeling completely out of my depth within it, even within some of the more blissful moments. Every moment, every decision and move we made I kept questioning, over-thinking beyond extreme, frightened that the friendship that came before the relationship was risked at every turn. Somehow I knew we’d lose something because of it, and I never wanted to lose the “us” that came before. The Lyrics above take me back there almost every time I Listen.
Its funny, I suppose, that a different Song from The National came out of that relationship. A Song we shared that was actually my introduction to the Band and their Music. Yet, it is this one that takes me back there, to Hotels on each side of the pond, and to misguided attempts at love between two best friends. “Slow Show” grabs my hand gently and leads me back into those days, and sometimes I welcome the visit. Other times it hurts too much to go back.
“You know I dreamed about you,
for twenty-nine years before I saw you.
You know I dreamed about you,
I missed you for,
for twenty-nine years.”
There’s something in the “29 years” in the Lyrics above that get to me, too, and connect back to that time. Thinking back, was that his age? I know it wasn’t mine. But there was a gap of age between us. Another “complication”, though in all honesty, it was the lesser of them.
These repeated Lyrics, they seem so soaked in sadness. In loss and disappointment. As if something you’ve wanted when realized never lives up to the dream of it. Or maybe that’s just how I’m taking this Song in today.
On a lighter side of the Lyrics, it may be the only Song I can think of that has the words “my dick” in it that is not a parody, or derrogatory in nature. Can you think of a love Song/melancholic Song with a Lyric about “my dick”?
“Slow Show” (live, at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2010) by The National
Making up her mirrored reflection
Monday Mixtape Playlist
“Shark Smile” by Big Thief
“Loving Is Easy” by Rex Orange County
“Party Police” by Alvvays
“I Could Be Happy” by Altered Images
“Don’t Delete the Kisses” by Wolf Alice
“Bang” by Blur
“Walk On the Wild Side’ by Lou Reed
“Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
“Somebody Is Waiting For Me” by Juliana Hatfield
“Honey and the Moon” by Joseph Arthur
“Lost Weekend” by Pete Yorn
“La Isla Bonita” by Madonna
“Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey
“I Need My Girl” by The National
“Home” by Daughter
“Shut Up Kiss Me” by Angel Olsen
“Your Love Is Killing Me” by Sharon Van Etten
“Hang On Me” by St. Vincent
“(Feeling Like a) Demon Again” by Primal Scream
“More Than Meets the Eye” by The Bangles
“Real Love Baby” by Father John Misty
“Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” by Car Seat Headrest
“My Little Corner of the World” by Yo La Tengo
“Slip Away” by Perfume Genius
“Pain” by The War On Drugs
“(Nice Dream)” by Radiohead
“New Slang” by The Shins
“Want You Back” by HAIM
“Creature Comfort” by Arcade Fire
Making up her mirrored reflection