Thoughts On Things Like Joni Mitchell
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.


Robyn Hitchcock - "My Favourite Buildings"

The scary thing about Robyn Hitchcock's special breed of insanity is that it very nearly passes for lucidity - he buries his absurdities in verses of seemingly meaningful, but ultimately ridiculous, lyrics. Hitchcock is deceptive too because he presents his words in a trust-inspiring naive pop, like a British Jonathan Richman. At first his song seems to be an analogue of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," where, unlike in the latter song, paradise isn't nature, but Hitchcock's preferred architecture. Hitchcock sings, "My favourite buildings are all falling down/feels like I dwell in a different town," and maybe the listener gets a bit choked up, moved by the thought of the collateral damage of human progress. Then, with the same sad conviction, Hitchcock intones, "But why should I bother with painting them brown/when they'll all be pulled down in the end?" Uh, who said anything about painting them brown?! Still, what a nice song, so the listener gives him the benefit of the doubt, and immediately regrets that decision upon hearing the following similes: "My favourite buildings stretch upward for miles/remind me somehow of your favourite smiles/like oak leaves in autumn/cascading on stiles/in the rain." Poetic license be damned: Common sense has been contravened! The last verse confirms that the song is literally nonsensical and, if metaphorical, only incomprehensibly so. The listener is left nodding her head to this melancholy pop song, wondering how she could have been so affected by the product of a mind not bound to our particular modes of understanding. [Buy]


Erin Costelo - "The Trouble and the Truth (Part 1)"
Erin Costelo - "The Trouble and the Truth (Part 2)"

Perhaps this speaks more to the unusual musical proclivities of my adolescence than it does to the quality of Erin Costelo's baritone voice, but when Costelo sings, she reminds me most of all of Genesis-era Peter Gabriel. Costelo doesn't sound like Gabriel exactly, and more often than not, her jazz-inflected, sprawling pop songs owe a greater debt to the composer of "Big Yellow Taxi" than to the man behind "Carpet Crawlers." It's in the way Costelo acts the parts of her songs' protagonists that she recalls Gabriel and his ability to inhabit his many characters and convincingly sing in their voices. In the two versions of "The Trouble and the Truth," the careful ballad that begins and ends Costelo's new EP of the same name, the singer and pianist shows us how a melody's meaning depends upon its frame. The first part - rumbling organ, lonely and reflective - sounds like a distant but formative memory; while the second part, in which Costelo sings more vigorously, accompanied by church-reverb piano and an affectingly unsteady male voice, seems vital and immediate. Only because of the Gabriel-like evocativeness of Costelo's arrangements and delivery can we hear that she begins her album at its end and ends it at its beginning. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at October 17, 2007 5:38 PM
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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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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.
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our favourite blogs
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Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
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
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

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st-viateur bagel
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drawn + quarterly
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blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
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Cult Montreal
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