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9. All For Myself

Oof.

Let’s just start there, mmk?

Again with the repetitive hum, the whisper-sung chant—it lulls you a little bit.  Not to sleep but straight to dreaming, if that makes a certain kind of sense.

Falsetto.  Piano.  Shoulderblades.

I want it all

I want it all for myself

It’s such a sad song even while it’s trying to convince you that the speaker is improving all the time, is in the red, is doing just fine, won’t be any trouble at all.  

What a crazy kind of ache this is, this constant, vast wanting.  How do you put it into words, how do you reconcile yourself with it? 

Do you ever? 

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7. Bad Communication

(A song so “simple” the file is small enough to upload! Yay!)

It’s funny that I should forget the existence of this song since it starts out with the sincerity and simplicity I love so much in “Futile Devices.” So I’d like to point out that the reason I forget this song has more to do with the collective brilliance of “Get Real, Get Right” and the upcoming “Vesuvius” than it does with any failures of this track.

It’s so quiet and so short as to almost be an interlude and (again with the pacing!) I think that’s exactly what the listener needs, coming off so much sonic overstimulation.

Don’t be so funny with me

I’m not laughing

Hands down my favorite part of this song is the way Sufjan breathes “I love you” —seeming to swallow the phrase and then painfully exhaling it.

I get a little hung up on breathing/breaths/exhalations.  And, for me, this particular refrain recalls "John Wayne Gacy’s" final line—a question left unanswered, save for a deep, revealing breath.  

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6. Get Real, Get Right

It’s pretty hard to follow up “Now That I’m Older” (a song my itunes library tells me I’ve listened to an embarrassing number of times) but “Get Real, Get Right” doesn’t disappoint—even if it takes the album in yet another direction.  

To my mind, this is another track that doesn’t start out with the most promise.  I’m into the flutes, I’m into the Philip Glass-ness of that intro arrangement but It takes at least half of the song for me to get situated with the vocal melody. 

Lyrically, this is a song seemingly interested in exploring the mind and obsessions of one Royal Robertson—with its talk of prophets, outer space (space space space space…), and getting right with the lord. Part of that process, of getting real/getting right, involves the removal of distractions…which makes the distracting electronic trappings of the track a bit too consciously ironic. 

I never did much research into the question of Royal and Sufjan at the time of the album’s release; I was (and am) only vaguely aware of Sufjan’s interest in and admiration of Royal.  But Sufjan’s interest in the potential of the schizophrenic workings of Royal’s mind appears intimately attached to questions around the chaotic workings of Suf’s own mind.  That side of this album is something I’m passionately engaged with and it’s a theme that really takes root in these remaining five tracks.  

Once the song reaches peak apologetic Sufjan (which also nicely coincides with a beautiful brass injection), it quietly and suddenly becomes one of my favorite melodies of this album.  

I know I’ve caused you trouble 

I know I’ve caused you pain 

But I must do the right thing

I must do myself a favor and get real

Get right with the Lord

I know I’ve lost my conscience

I know I’ve lost all shame

But I must do the right thing

I must do myself a favor and get real

Get right with the Lord

I know I’ve always loved you

I know I’ve always been

But I must do the right thing

I must do myself a favor and get real

Get right with the Lord

I’m in love with  these moments when Sufjan’s voice pines and stretches to the upper reaches of his register (“I know I’ve caused you trouble/I know I’ve caused you pain”). 

And that brass.  I’M ALL ABOUT THAT BRASS/NO TREBLE.

(Seriously, it gives me life).

Source: Spotify
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antirecords:

The Antlers video for the song “Refuge” from their recent album Familiars. The video was produced by Morgan Beringer and focuses on an aqueous solution that looks like cloudy dye and light slowly moving through water.

Source: antirecords
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Now That I’m Older (Live at L’Olympia)

(in case that embedded vid on the last post is not loading properly for you)

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5. Now That I’m Older

Things are gonna get real now because this is both my favorite song on this album and the hardest song for me to write about.  

(For the record, I think the more “futile” your words are in describing something, the better that thing probably is.)

(Which is probably why I’m such an unproductive writer.)

(Shit.)

So we’re gonna start out with some chanting, some melodic humming and ooh-ing and ah-ing.  It’s a little like the Battlestar Galactica opening theme but more comforting/less anxiety-inducing.

Beneath that choral arrangement, there’s a really lovely piano piece.  If someone could isolate that piano melody and send it to me, I’d create a playlist for you for every month of the year.

It’s different now I think

I wasn’t older yet

I wasn’t wise I guess

Wow, that’s just where we start, lyrically.  No time to collect yourself. 

I wasn’t older yet/I wasn’t wise I guess.  His voice is aching here, it is the very definition of aching.  It’s an almost unbearable sentiment sung in an almost unbearably pained voice.  

Somewhere I lost whatever else I had

I wasn’t over you

I see it right inside itself

I listened to this album (repeatedly, obsessively) at a particularly confusing time for me, a time of growing up and a time of moving forward.  Moving forward, for me at least, meant revisiting some stuff that needed to be left behind and that, of course, can be a fucking sad thing.  It’s liberating, sure, but before you feel that you just feel really fucking bruised.

I wanted so much to be at rest

Now that I’m older

So be it so of love

Wanting to be in a place in your life and actually being in that place are such dramatically different things, it’s incredible how different those things are.  You can’t talk yourself into the latter, despite how much you’re invested in the former.  And getting older probably means recognizing that difference.

I thought I was so in love

Some say it wasn’t true

Now that I’m older

So we’re closing out the track, Sufjan’s wailing, I’m pulled over on the side of the road sobbing in the great shadows of Montana’s Glacier National Park. 

There’s so much travel yet

And now that I’m older

Someone else, can see it for myself

Mmmmm.  Now that I’m older, now that I’m someone else, I can see for myself all the travel left.  The stages of this song are basically the stages of grief and the grieving is in his voice and it’s swirling all around you, through the chorus and the wailing and the piano—it’s goddamn beautiful.

There’s so much travel yet

Source: Spotify