Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

Neeley Bridges, "Damage"
(Sendfile Link) (The artist gave me permission to post her song).

I just want to climb inside this woman's voice and nestle there. No need to wake me. Her voice is the equivalent of getting a pillow from an angel. I'm not exaggerating (though I've never gotten a pillow from an angel. In fact one of my pillows is suffering from stuffing-loss). I hear so many emotions and conflicting feelings in her voice, and this serves the emotional complexity of this song perfectly. As sweet as her voice is, there's trauma and doubt, too. The name of Neeley's album is Devil On My Shoulder, and she does not shy away from the ways in which we sabotage and mistreat ourselves. Parallel to the pain, though, we also find redemption. In this song, she offers to take someone's burden, and pack it on her back with her own. She believe she is capable of taking this on: She'll "answer anything that [she's] thrown". The power of her conviction is evident. She says she doesn't think "anyone should be alone". She almost pleads with the person to "leave the damage" to her: She will find a way to break it down, to dispel "the shadow of doubt". Maybe in this case, the devil is on the other person's shoulder, telling the person that there is no help. There is no relief. The singer is working hard to defeat that devil, which is even harder to do when it's not your own.

Neeley's Wordpress Blog

I'm telling a pillow from an angel...(no, that's not creepy! Why are you saying that's creepy?)

Plus Minus, "Snowblind"

As part of my new job, we're having to do all these team building exercises. Yes, it is fun. Anyhoo, one of the exercises was determining how to survive in a snowstorm. We had to answer questions as a group, making the best decisions for survival. One of the questions was "You find yourself in an avalanche. You ride it out and you realize that it's slowing down, though it hasn't stopped yet. What do you do? Do you start digging yourself out, or do you ride it out until the snow has settled?" I said to ride it out because when the snow is swirling all around you, you don't know which way is which, you don't know if you're right beside a precipice, you don't know if there are branches caught up with you that could scratch you. You just don't know what's around you--it seems safer to wait until you can get your bearings. I think the person in this song feels like this. The dam has broken. Floodgates flooding. According to the singer, everything that upsets the person is "overwhelming everything you see". The person is "snow blind", in a "sandstorm haze". The singer observes that "There’s nothing to connect to" as the avalanche descends. The storm may be a "near-miss" but it overtakes the person just the same. Anyone who's ever felt like they're in an avalanche knows that when you're in it, you can't tell how severe it is. It's too easy to lose your bearings and your sense of judgement. Which is why I would opt to ride the storm out instead of fight it. Well, turns out I would be wrong. According to the survival thingy, you're supposed to start climbing out as soon as you can. Whatever. I'd be so dead anyway.

Plus/Minus lyrics

but...where's Ringo? He's in the next picture, afterall...

Seabellies, "Drain The Lake"

Damn! Damn!!! I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to find the perfect thing to say about this song. You know--something succinct and poetic, yet utterly accurate. No fluffy, pointless language. Every word enhances the other word. A perfect paraphrasing of the sound and the meaning of the song. Well, it turns out someone has already given the most perfect description of their sound. On the band's Myspace is a quote from Beat Magazine: "Seabellies have shades of Arcade Fire about them – fevered pop with a fierce romantic heart".

"Fevered pop with a fierce romantic heart". Yes, I shamefully admit that that is perfect, and I did not write it. That's exactly what I would have written, though, if I'd thought of it first. Maybe I can go back in time and think of it first. Or maybe I'll just "writer-up" and try to think of something myself. Okay, here goes:

In this song, I hear a longing for our natural state of being to be returned to us. Our instincts, our peace, our strength should be restored. Our strength doesn't come from industry; as the song details in a fabled future where we do reclaim ourselves: "Folks grew strong as their buildings fell down". In our preferred state of being, serenity is judged by how long the "starlight takes to reach our eyes". The earth also reclaimed her territory: "The forests grew between the pavement cracks". We've ceased hurting not only ourselves, but our home as well. In the song's vision for us, "our histories went with the waterline", but I don't believe we went underwater. In this possible reality, I think we will shed our past and become only ourselves. The context of our former daily lives' will be gone, but we will have our relationships to ourselves and each other, instead of the daily patterns that have demoralized us and chained us.

Their Australia Site

Seabellies would like to send out the message that bookstore chic is still cool

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