Music does a lot of different things to a lot of different people but I think what I love about it the most is the way it can condense and translate the most complicated and screwed-up ideas, situations or emotions into a song, or (better) just a single line. Some artists have the capacity to say in a word what would take most people a paragraph. I think of Hemingway’s response to a friend’s wager that he couldn’t write a story in six words: For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn. I think what this kind of beautiful expression needs is a connection at the front end so powerful that instinct takes over and says it for you.
Sometimes artists express things in simple ways and it rules, LOOK, songs!
The Mountain Goats – Old College Try
I wanna say I’m sorry for stuff I haven’t done yet; things will shortly get completely out of hand.
I’m just delving into the Mountain Goats discography and I get the feeling this isn’t the only line he’s written that could fit on this list. To me, this line sums up that feeling of unavoidable chaos where you know you’re strapped into a ride that you should technically be able to stop but really, really can’t. What I absolutely adore about the way he phrases it is that it’s so matter-of-fact it almost makes it seem not his fault. Or mine.
The Weakerthans – Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure
I can’t remember the sound that you found for me.
I’ve talked at (ridiculous) length about this song before and with good reason; coupled with the first part of its story, it says so much about the difference between loneliness and being alone, and the idea of companionship, that at one point it merited about a zillion words on Facebook, every single one of them necessary, though I suppose the issue is that that’s not really the case since Samson just wrote this song and it expresses it better than I ever could but shut up. But this line, in context, absolutely kills me every time.
For the uninitiated, the song(s) are about a cat named Virtute whose owner is a wreck, and when he doesn’t sort his life out, she leaves and becomes stray. The “sound that you found for me”, in-context, is her name, but it stretches, I think, as far as the picture you see reflected back in the eyes of people you love, or who love you, or maybe the two aren’t that different.
Probably the saddest song ever.
Paul Dempsey – Fast Friends
I know no quicker way, dear, to the shiny gates of hell, than a room full of handsome devils comparing everything to everything else.
Picking a line to go here from Something For Kate frontman Dempsey’s debut LP is difficult; there’s one song in particular on it which hits harder lyrically than a freight train, but in terms of expressing abstract concepts with stunningly sharp imagery this takes the cake even despite the patisserie-like surroundings (I got the record while I was in France..). This one doesn’t need any explaining, I hope. I think we all wish from time to time we could just get on and like the stuff we like.
The other track is “Safety In Numbness”, if you’re interested.
That’s all for now but if you have any suggestions or requests post them down there! I’m sure I’ll stumble back to this part of musictown quite frequently.