Friday, April 13, 2007

Song of the Week: "What Led Me To This Town"

Download: The Jayhawks - "What Led Me To This Town"

This week's song takes me back seven years, fresh from college and in the midst of my infatuation with alt-country. Ryan Adams's Heartbreaker was breaking my heart then, and this song--"What Led Me To This Town"--by the Jayhawks counted as one of the first songs I ever downloaded.

The song transports me immediately, right from those first strums of the guitar, and the rest of the song is wonderful, blissful, dreamy pop. It only errs in that it has to end.

In terms of explication, the title works as a question and an explanation. The town in question is a place called Love. And while the question of "what led me to this town" at first sounds like a lament, a sigh of regret, it ultimately becomes a sigh of disbelief--disbelief in the fortunate position he finds himself in. While there is fear and trepidation, these soon reveal a sense of relief, so that when the narrator asks, "What happened to this boy?" it is with the happy realization of how far he had gotten and how lucky he is.

If "What Led Me To This Town" was simply a cheery song about finding love, I probably wouldn't pay it much attention. Gary Louris and the rest of the Jayhawks, though, were a far too crafty bunch of songwriters to resort to such treacle. The song works because it possesses a wry sensibility. The narrator tries to hide how he feels, complaining of how restrictive a life he now lives, but he just can't contain himself. He gives himself away with the exuberant chorus stating, "Blue lights are shining over my life."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about the title track, "Smile"? That's a terrific song, too.