Friday, January 04, 2008

Favorite Songs from 2007: #4

Lists have become super-sized. No one is content with just 10 any more. It has to be 20, 50, 100. Blame it on my generation's belief that they don't have to choose. They can have it all. I am guilty of it, too, so this year I have resolved to make choices. My lists will be kept to ten regardless of how painful it will be to leave off some deserving choices. Heck, I won't even mention the runners-up. Ten and I'm sticking to it. We start with songs.

"Armchairs" by Andrew Bird

Album: Armchair Apocrypha

"Armchairs" takes its time to build up to its gorgeous, heartrending crescendo, but it is worth the wait. It is an absolute stunner of a song with some of the most beautifully elliptical lyrics of the year ("I dreamed you were a cosmonaut/Of the space between our chairs"). What does "time is a crooked bow" even mean? Is it referring to a violin bow, which crooked, would play dissonant music? "Armchairs," though, is the opposite of dissonant. It is a swirling, haunting song that in Andrew Bird terms is seemingly stripped of layers, but it is nonetheless meticulously arranged and produced. From the hollow knock of the piano to the chiming of the guitars, Bird's craftsmanship is in evidence. However, less present are Bird's trademark quirks, but few artists like Bird can craft such an open-hearted yet obtuse sounding epic love song.

Much like "Apartment Story" the romance of this song can be found in its references to enduring love. Armchair, perhaps a symbol of old age, references to 55 and 3/8 years, suggest an age old love. Then there are the T.S. Eliot like lines "as ancient sea slugs begin to crawl/Through the ragweed and barbed wire" which give the song an air of impenetrability. Regardless, you can simply close your eyes and get lost in the ebb and flow of Bird's effortless voice and music.

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