Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Decemberists- Bridges and Balloons (Joanna Newsom cover)

Oh the loveeee for Joanna Newsom. Due to the universal critical accalaim for her last record Ys, Joanna has won herself many new fans over the past few months. For one the number of listeners she has clocked in on has increased by a million since December of last year. Fellow musicians are approving as well, with covers being recorded by Final Fantasy, M.Ward and as featured in this entry, The Decemberists. Their cover of "Bridges and Balloons" was originally a b-side to their 2005 album Picaresque (which shows that Colin Meloy certainly wasn't a bandwagon fan) and was available on the vinyl edition of the album. Colin doesn't suddenly attempt to try his luck on the harp however...he transcribes the song over to acoustic guitar. While it in my opinion doesn't come close to the original, it's about as good as you're going to get for a cover on guitar.

Joanna's version is a fantastic colorful journey of a song. Pitchfork even gave it a coveted 5-star track review where they portray the song as piece of legitimate poetry. I couldn't agree more. The images Joanna uses in her lyrics bring you to this wonderful world in your mind where you may not always be able to get a coherent view of the songs' meaning yet just the same they seem to enter your heart and amazing feelings that you otherwise rarely feel emerge. However there's also the rewarding process of analying lyrics which when you do and work up your own interpretation the song succeeds on a new level. On that note on songmeanings the user "Annelise" has posted what could be an essay about the song's lyrics that's really a great read. She brings up themes of whimsical adventure and exploration which can be hinted at easily enough yet the examples she brings in involving childhood imagination and the need in our busy lives to occasionally stop and observe the world around us (and especially paying mind to the thimble-sized aspects) really bring her points home. Always look at the world like it's the first time you're seeing it. I especially like her line "Birds have wings, and should be flying in worlds much larger than themselves."

The Decemberists - Bridges and Balloons

Joanna Newsom - Bridges and Balloons

"We sailed away on a winter's day
With fate as malleable as clay
But ships are fallible, I say
And the nautical, like all things, fades
And I can recall our caravel
A little wicker beetle shell
With four fine maste and lateen sails
Its bearings on Cair Paravel

Oh my love
Oh it was a funny little thing
To be
The ones
To've seen

The sight of bridges and balloons
Makes calm canaries irritable
And they caw and claw all afternoon
Catenaries and dirigibles
Brace and bouoy the living room
A loom of metals warp woof wimble
And a thimblesworth of milky moon
Can touch hearts larger than a thimble"

"Bridges and Balloons" Live:

The Decemberists @ Kill Rock Stars
Joanna Newsom @ Drag City

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