Monday, February 14, 2011

Songwriting Spank Material - "Pale Green Things"

The Mountain Goats are a band I've only recently discovered, and really that's alright. I have their entire discography, and I think I would have been turned away from them if I would have discovered them earlier. A lot of their early recordings are lo-fi, and I pretty much hate everything that is lo-fi. My friend Clint Carroll introduced me to The Mountain Goats (Clint has yet to steer me in an ill direction musically). He told me the lead singer reminded him of me, both vocally and lyrically, and he told me I'd probably enjoy their album The Sunset Tree. He was right. Every song on it is utterly brilliant. It's one of the few albums I own that I have to listen to from start to finish. Some tracks of note include - "You and Your Memory," "Broom People," "This Year," "Dance Music," "Up The Wolves," "Song For Dennis Brown," "Love Love Love," and the song I'm going to talk about now.

"Pale Green Things" is a brilliant song, but lyrically I don't think it's the strongest on the album. That distinction would probably have to go to "Song For Dennis Brown" or "Love Love Love." But again, I'm not trying to identify the best song on the album. I'm trying to identify my favorite, and "Pale Green Things" takes the prize for me. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, I think from a vocal standpoint this song is the most emotional. It's about the death of someone who was at least somewhat close to the singer, and the strings add a tremendous amount of sorrow to it. Sometimes the feeling you put behind your vocals can help turn a mediocre song into something brilliant. Ben Folds does this a lot with passionate vocals and fiery piano playing. The other reason I like this song is because of that pesky resonance factor, it conjures some personal emotions in me, and reminds me of my grandfather. On the last day of his life, my grandfather got to see his sister who lived a long way away, got to watch his grandson (not me) run in a track meet, and finished his day with a beer and some salami and hard bread. You'll understand why I conjure this memory when you listen to the song.

1 comment:

addison_l said...

I love that song, and that album. Nice little write up.