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The National - "Fake Empire"

When "Fake Empire" was given to The National - by a god or a Santa or a spirit with access to Plato's form world - it was given just as it is, (seeming) flaws and all. It's entirely possible that The National was displeased by the fact that there's something vaguely "Walking in Memphis"-ish about their new song or that the horn section at the end, beautiful as it is, sounds jacked from a late Lionel Richie synth line. Unfortch for the aesthetically particular among the band, there's no room for redaction when you're dealing with a draft from a higher power. God doesn't give you a song for you to fuck it up; he gives it to you for you to release, just as it is, on your indie rock album, where it will outshine a bunch of sadly imperfect, all too human compositions. [Buy]

***

Mike James Kirkland - "Baby I Need Your Loving"

Tell me that no one ever asked Mickey Mantle what he thought of Roger Maris breaking the single-season home run record in 1961 and I'll have a prolonged laugh at your expense. Why not propose that Thomas Hobbes was never asked about Robert Boyle, or that Admiral Byrd wasn't always hearing questions about Roald Amundsen? I've never heard anything so absurd in my life! If your list of life goals includes and is limited to writing a play that will be immediately received into the canon of absurdist theatre, then here's a piece of invaluable advice: take the line "Admiral Byrd wasn't always hearing questions about Roald Amundsen" and stick it in the middle of "Look Back In Anger." Voila! You can die now. Name one occasion on which Byrd wasn't hearing questions about Amundsen and I'll name one occasion on which I was lied to ( i.e. the very previous moment, when you were speaking).

When whoever it was that asked Marvin Gaye about The Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Loving" did the most important deed of his or her life (i.e . asked Marvin Gaye about the Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Loving"), I would be very surprised if Gaye's response wasn't a remarkably close aural approximation of Mike James Kirkland's cover of "Baby I Need Your Loving." A relaxed, slightly melancholic discussion of a song, which happens to take the form of a song itself; indeed, the exact harmonic form of its subject. With tone and intonation that owes everything to Gaye and a voice nearly as unstrained and sweet as the master's, Kirkland presents a song borrowed and clearly cared for, an enviable work of music appreciation that we can make love to. And hopefully, through different means, I have achieved the same.

[Buy]

Posted by Jordan at May 23, 2007 5:58 PM
Comments

I don't know. "Fake Empire" sounds pretty perfect to me.

Posted by Alicia at May 23, 2007 8:45 PM

If the song came from Platonic heaven it would be perfect. If it was instantiated it would, as you say, pall in comparison to the Platonic form thereof. I happen to like it.

Posted by austin. at May 23, 2007 10:16 PM

To clarify: I did not mean that the song is imperfect; only that it may seem that way to a feeble human intellect easily distracted by the unmodish. As in all things, god (or Santa or Plato Spirit) knows best.

Posted by Jordan at May 23, 2007 10:34 PM

It does sound like you're saying the rest of the album sucks though...

Posted by Jeff at May 23, 2007 11:14 PM

"Sucks" is strong, but yes, that's the thrust.

Posted by Jordan at May 23, 2007 11:21 PM

I pretty much agree, Jordan.
I love "Fake Empire" and also find that I enjoy 3 or 4 other songs as well. The album as a whole just doesn't do it for me though.

Posted by lil'girl at May 24, 2007 2:41 AM

OMG is Lionel Richie dead?????

Posted by Keef at May 24, 2007 6:52 AM

Boxer is an amazing album. Listen more.

Posted by mike at May 26, 2007 9:16 PM

i might lose the "vaugely" in the "vaguely 'Walking in Memphis"-ish'" sentence.

Posted by fairest at June 5, 2007 9:46 AM

Seriously, this is one of the most focused, poignant, and accurate reviews I've read on your fantastic blog.

Posted by Drew at June 7, 2007 2:53 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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