Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 3/26/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

It’s finally spring. Sprouts are crawling out of the crumbly earth, the fog is lifting, and I have a depressingly gray color scheme to show for it. My overexcitement for getting Peter Gabriel tickets (HUUUAUAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHGHGH BIG THANK YOU TO MY PARENTS) trumps any hope of a springtime aesthetic for this post.

Enjoy this week’s songs!

SUNDAY SONGS: 3/26/23

“Darkness” – Peter Gabriel

Picture this. It’s early in the morning. You have a 9 AM class you have to get ready for. You’ve decided to listen to Up, so you put it on while you start putting your makeup on. Track 1. You turn the volume up, because nothing much seems to be happening. 0:29 hits. All hell breaks loose.

And yet, even though I do my SPD jumpscare dance every time it rolls around, I find myself listening to this song like an adrenaline junkie. Peter Gabriel knows how to open an album—lulling you into near-silence, then hitting you with a concentrated, almost industrial opening that probably keeps Trent Reznor up at night wondering how he could top it. More than that, “Darkness” is another song I’ve added to my internal list of reasons why Gabriel is such a uniquely talented musician—he makes creating a musical atmosphere that mirrors the lyrical story look so easy. As he speaks of being consumed by fear, the instrumentals crash in, enveloping all else as his voice grinds to a gravel-edged plea for solace. It was enough to give me a heart attack, and, if I’m going by the YouTube comments, enough to give people nightmares. Gabriel whispers of fearing “swimming in the sea/dark shapes moving under me/every fear I swallow makes me small,” and in the edges of the near-silence, a strained moan sounds, like a distant whale call or the grinding of a boat. The imagery is startling in its clarity—if I had the patience, I’d jump at the chance to make some kind of stop-motion or claymation music video. Unlike other artists, Gabriel’s instrumentally darker, more abrasive side doesn’t surprise me—after the first listen, all I could think of is that it was the next natural evolution of “Intruder.”

But over two decades after the release of “Intruder,” (which, unlike this song, was enough to keep me up at night—on the first night alone in my dorm, no less…good times) Gabriel has a deeply nuanced understanding of fear. Even as these fears swallow him like the whale in Pinnochio, he finds a way through the tangled woods, knowing that fear will pass—”I have my fears/but they do not have me.” Well. I needed to hear that. Sometimes it’s hard to hear these things when we’re swallowed up so easily—which I can relate to a little too well, with my experience with general fear over various things, as well as the truckload of anxiety that came along with making the move to college—but as the song ebbs and flows from monstrous crescendos to something more bare and gentle, so too do our fears. It’s all too easy for me to think that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel when I get in a place like this, but fear, like everything else, is impermanent. And when we look back, like Gabriel, we can “cry until [we] laugh.” Maybe that’s why I find myself seeking out this song so much—I love when I can give myself a musical mantra. It has no control over me.

“Nobody’s Fool” – Shakey Graves

I’ve been meaning to listen to Shakey Graves and the Horse he Rode In On solely because of how much I love that name, but I’ve got more motivation (not that I didn’t have any—the eternal album bucket list waits for no man) after hearing this one in my brother’s girlfriend’s car. Shakey Graves can make anything seem natural, be it the more experimental wanderings of Can’t Wake Up to the classic folkiness of this song. And like a classic folk song, there’s something inherently haunting about it—even without the lines about drinking and deep-seated regret, there’s an off-kilter waver to “Nobody’s Fool,” a shadow creature that’s emerged from under the bed, hanging over Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s shoulder. If that’s the case, he’s probably given said creature a banjo or something since this song, but here, it lingers. “Nobody’s Fool” is a song so atmospheric that it feels like there’s a tangible coat of dust over it—again, the lingering eeriness about it, but something of a good kind of dust, given this song’s bizarre pull.

“Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring” – The Magnetic Fields

I love the irony in the fact that I just got an ad claiming that “99.9% of women will chase you when you do this” above the search results for this song. At that point, you can’t even say that YouTube has bad gaydar—it just doesn’t have any gaydar whatsoever…

There’s a solid chance that I’ll be blabbing about The Magnetic Fields for the next week or two afterwards, but I had the incredible privilege of seeing them last Friday night! At a small venue, too—no annoying drunk people, no jostling for a good view, just cellos, sad gay breakup songs, and Stephin Merritt’s three mugs of tea. And other than the pure genius of playing “The Book of Love,” getting everbody sobbing (it’s me I’m everybody), and then launching into “The Biggest Tits in History” (IT’S ABOUT THE BIRD IT’S ABOUT THE BIRD I SWEAR GUYS GUYS) directly after, this show made me remember how many pockets of Merritt and co.’s genius that I hadn’t heard of, or just forgotten about. Take this song; with the amount of wry, folky breakup songs that they’ve produced, you’d expect for there to be an eventual formula. Bitterness is a constant, but it’s delivered in such a clever, creative way that I can’t help but smile and nod along as if Stephin Merritt is singing about rainbows and kittens. He’ll never outright say “you broke my heart” or “I can’t forgive you for what you did”—like clay, he pulls that core emotion into “don’t you know love/goes home to Paris in the spring?” That’s the kind of wry, tongue-in-cheek magic that draws me to The Magnetic Fields again and again—Stephin Merritt never has any boring ways of interpreting love and heartbreak. Still, it’s been a few decades since they’ve started the band—I just hope he isn’t in for any “I Don’t Believe in the Sun” relationships anymore. Dude deserves a break.

“Playing for Time” – Peter Gabriel

Before I get into the song itself…another reason why I admire Peter Gabriel so much—skip to 1:00 in the video and you’ll see him performing an early, unfinished version of “Playing for Time” without any lyrics. The prospect of performing…well, anything is already nerve-wracking enough for me, but playing something that you haven’t even finished live? That’s a feat, but I guess you can just do that when you’re Peter Gabriel. I can barely even make myself share in-progress bits of writing with friends.

Onto the song itself…I’m not gonna survive this album. I barely survived this song. Gabriel’s ability to dig into our most base emotions has never faded away, and “Playing For Time” is no exception. It’s a meditation on aging, on time, and on the memories we share between loved ones. He envisions a planet comprised of the memories made by a couple— “any moment that we bring to life/will never fade away.” It’s a song that came tragically late for Arrival, but maybe that’s the way it should’ve been—the movie, and the message that mirrors this song, already made me ugly cry three separate times. I could barely hold it together after listening to this twice. But along with this song and this movie, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot; I’ve always treasured moments with my loved ones, but moving to college and being alone and independent for the first time has made me realize how precious it really is. But it’s also made me realize that these memories really do never quite go away, as long as we keep them close. Don’t let these things pass you by.

Okay, I need to stop. I think one sitting is the only time frame that I can listen to this song without curling up in a ball.

I need a minute…

“Pencils in the Wind” – Flight of the Conchords

“And people are like paper dolls/paper dolls and people, they are a similar shape…”

“Hey Jude” who? Paul McCartney wishes he could’ve come up with a line as raw as that. The voices of a generation, truly peerless.

Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Advertisement

Author:

book blogger, aspiring author, music nerd, comics fan, stargazer. ☆ she/her ☆ ISFJ ☆ bisexual ☆ spd ☆ art: @spacefacedraws pfp by @cybersoybean (picrew)

3 thoughts on “Sunday Songs: 3/26/23

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s