Grizzly Bear's Marla
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.
I wrote before about Grizzly Bear's Yellow House. I said they had taught their garden to sing. That's a strange thing to say: how can a garden sing? It would have to be inhabited. With crickets and moths, maybe. Or nightingales. Or gardeners.
Or with ghosts.
I've carried Yellow House with me through many days and nights, on the streets and in my home. (When my mood was soaring or when I was drifting, woozy. Both of these things.) It is a music at once diaphonous and bodily, like a hand you can occasionally take and occasionally not. Like the way you can feel sunshine, sometimes, as you walk through a dusty band of it. There's an insideness to the music, - close, murmured, tender, - brought outside. Or an outsideness - wild, fertile, ripe, - brought in. Things walking where they should and shouldn't.
The Grizzly Bear song "Marla" is perhaps the most haunted of any on Yellow House. A piano sounds, an attic whispers, and voices gather like spirits in a cup. The strings, arranged by Final Fantasy, dip and rise like an old phonograph (gramophone?) record.
And here we come to a woman called Marla.
The song "Marla" is named for the great-great-aunt of Ed Droste, Grizzly Bear's founder (and a StG guestblogger last year). In the 1930s she moved from Boston to New York to be a singer. She failed, and by the end of the forties, she had drunk herself to death.
"Marla" takes its melody and words by one of the few things the real Marla left behind: this song, all full of sepia flowers. There are no attic sounds, no voices gathering in a cup. In the original recording we hear just the lace of Marla's voice, the ringing rise of the piano line - quickening, breathless. But already there's something unsettling in the cadences; something that wants and lingers. Not the sound of a ghost, yet perhaps - just a little - the premonition of one. Something already stirring in the drapes.
Ed explained to me, by IM:
"she's looking for things
From white to blue/purple
Do you ever wonder the colour of memory?Posted by Sean at September 11, 2006 3:00 AM
Great post, Sean ! Thanks.Posted by garrincha at September 11, 2006 5:35 AM
this is a great story
you were the first to show me yellow house sean. as always way ahead of the packPosted by marla at September 11, 2006 7:21 AM
i do now
Posted by ru at September 11, 2006 7:52 AM
Very nice. I picture a sinister carousel on the first one (something wicked this way comes).Posted by Tuwa at September 11, 2006 9:35 AM
what a beautifully sad story. a truly great post!Posted by Jenn at September 11, 2006 10:20 AM
Every fucking day I wonder the colour of memory. It looks and sounds like a sepia flower haunted by nightingales and gardeners. It feels so inside, but still from the outside. You know, like a dusty band of sunshine.
Truly great post! I really dig!Posted by daniel at September 11, 2006 12:06 PM
if you want to hear the record, good news:
Yellow House is streaming at VPRO -
Posted by bmr at September 11, 2006 12:25 PM
that was so sweet!!!Posted by dang at September 12, 2006 4:45 PM
i loved this..Posted by musicisart at September 12, 2006 4:58 PM
what a gem!! this is what i live for--- the origin of inspiration and the sad story behind it... you kick ass... i cant believe i know own the original version of this song..Posted by caleb at September 12, 2006 11:02 PM
Good one, this song stuck out for me when I first listened to the album. It's such a strange ghost-town of a song, like aimless nighttime trodding on fallen saloon doors.Posted by Dave at September 15, 2006 8:08 AM
Every fucking day I wonder the colour of memory. It looks and sounds like a sepia flower haunted by some nightingales and gardeners. It feels so inside, but still from the outside. You know, like a dusty band of sunshine.
Maybe some day someone will recognize my pretentious and semi-dramatic mumblings as the work of a true poet and genius which it is. Until that day I will visit your blog for inspiration. so said my gramophone. crap.Posted by daniel at September 15, 2006 8:46 AM
A really great post - insightful.Posted by Brad aka Penguin at September 16, 2006 3:52 PM
Great post - any chance you could repost that original song?Posted by Frank at September 22, 2007 12:47 PM
beautiful source of inspiration.Posted by Pedram at May 6, 2010 3:40 AM
[Grizzly Bear] "taught their garden to sing" [...] "when my mood was soaring or when I was drifting, woozy" [...] "at once diaphonous and bodily, like a hand you can occasionally take occasionally not. Like the way you can feel sunshine, sometimes, as you walk through a dusty band of it. There's an insideness to the music, - close, murmured, tender, - brought outside. Or an outsideness - wild, fertile, ripe, - brought in. Things walking where they should and shouldn't." Yup, just copy-pasting these sensations you kindly expressed on my behalf. The choice of words is brilliant - not "poetic", but true poetry - you've internalized this music palpable.
As for "Marla", my favourite off YH lyrics-wise, I'm a tiny bit disappointed at reading Ed's explanations. I had this interpretation [which I'm dying to share] where the singer is this Mr. Forbes' housekeeper, assistant girl, mistress, or even wife, someone who lives with/under the same roof as - him [and is, openly or secretly, in love with him]. He wants to move away/leave her, and she has hidden/discarded/destroyed some of his belongings, to keep him around a little longer [seeing as: 1) if she lives there and must know her way around the house; 2) the likes of a cello or harp aren't easily misplaced]. While this sounds like an impishly funny act of mischief, its utter conspicuousness actually denotes sad sense of despair - she is basically admitting her inferiority to a bunch of inanimate objects - he could well go without her, but he "can't go without that". So we get an ironic mix of childish denial and resignation, of hopelessness and bittersweet empty gratification. And this is why I think the lyrics to this song are a black gem, and the gloomy delivery does them unwitting justice.Posted by Adriana Volceanov at September 12, 2010 3:55 PM
Hello, is there any chance to listen to original Marla's song? I cannot find it anywhere. I wrote to Ed Droste. He told me he'll post it somewhere but he never did. Can you help me?Posted by Dominik at February 2, 2012 4:02 PM
The orchestration is very reminiscent of some Gavin Bryars stuff.Posted by Tron at March 13, 2015 12:33 AM
How strange to have a song with my name.. I love it. Is this a coincidence ! WOWPosted by marla grizzle at June 21, 2016 12:07 PM
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.
To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'
All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.
Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.
If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz
Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.
If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.
"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
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.
Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.
Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.
Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.
Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by .
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
La Blogothèque ◊
Weird Canada ◊
Destination: Out ◊
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe) ◊
Ill Doctrine ◊
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music ◊
Petites planétes ◊
Gorilla vs Bear ◊
Silent Shout ◊
Clouds of Evil ◊
The Dolby Apposition ◊
Awesome Tapes from Africa ◊
Matana Roberts ◊
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews ◊
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan ◊
CKUT Music ◊
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater ◊
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden ◊
Passion of the Weiss ◊
Juan and Only ◊
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin) ◊
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad ◊
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross) ◊
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet ◊
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News