Monday, March 9, 2009

Dancing about architecture

So I'm trying to get in on the Animal Collective Madness; the critics are very big on Merriweather Post Pavillion right now. There's a lot to like about it. And I'm getting into the lyrics, which I often ignore, but there's something about the way they juxtapose with the type of music the band is making on this record. I was reading an interview with the dude who sings (and presumably wrote) the first track, In the Flowers, and he's definitely of the school where he doesn't want to get into too much detail, because the words should mean whatever the listener thinks they mean. Anyway, the lyrics to that song fascinate me. Here's one posting I found of them:

A dancer who was high in a field from a moment
Caught my breath on my way home
Couldn’t stop that spinning force
I fell into you
Everything drowns you to giggle
You are up with the flower and I care

So the dancer who gets wild to the deep reveling rhythm
But I am always away for weeks
that pass slow like mind gets lost
Feeling envy for the kid who danced in spite of anything
And we’re out in the flowers and feel better

If I could just leave my body for the night

Then we could be dancing no more missing you while I am gone
Then we could be dancing and you’d smile and say I like this song
And then ours would meet them we will recognize nothing’s wrong
And I wouldn’t feel so selfish I won’t be this way very long
To hold you in time
To hold you in time
To hold you in time
To hold you in time

And we’re dancing, early hours drunken days finally ended
And the streets turn for pillowcase
And I fumble all good lie
Then the ecstasy turns the writhing light through our windowpane
Now I am gone, I left flowers for you there

I'm not convinced these are 100 percent right, not by a long shot; I'm willing to believe they're purposely fragmented and incoherent, kind of in a 'this, not linearly, is how we experience life' way; it's more that I'm saying when I listen to the song with the words in front of me, some of the phrases seem like a reach. But I'm willing to work with them.

So I was talking about the freedom to interpret the lyrics as we please. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that the guy sees some kid who's obliviously dancing away, and the singer is feeling a little sorry for himself, because he's lonely and can't forget it, unlike this kid, who surely has worries of his or her own but has seemingly put them behind him for now. And, the way almost anything can, it reminds the singer of his girlfriend or wife, and how much he misses her, and he wishes he could be with her now.

Then we could be dancing no more missing you while I am gone
Then we could be dancing and you’d smile and say I like this song

I love this part, and while obviously "this song" could be whatever song the two of them would be dancing to, I immediately came to think of it as *this* song, In the Flowers. And the way it resonated with me is it made me a little jealous. I've made some music, and I've married a woman with whom I have little in common culturally. She doesn't much like my kind of music, although she is kind about it. So I was a little jealous of the guy, imagining he had married a woman who liked his music, and who wanted to share it with him. I mean, that's why a lot of us started making music. All of us, really, did it to connect with someone, if not someone specific.

Anyway, I was thinking about the song again on the train in this morning, when I realized the singer could mean something else. I mean, he's fantasizing that she's there, dancing with him (and that 'nothing's wrong'). Maybe he's also dreaming about her liking the song. Maybe they don't connect in that way, and that is part of the fantasy too. I'm in the throes of new fandom, so I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about these guys. A couple of reviews of the album have denigrated the lyrics. But I think the lyrics to this song might be perfect.

1 comment: said...

Yeah, I think you are onto something with this post. As a lyricist, I've resisted the urge to mention the song I'm writing in the lyrics to said song. It seemed too cheesy or self conscious. But lately...I've begun to realize that the song itself is the solution to the problem. Whatever that problem may be. Loneliness, longing, constipation, you name it.

So, in relation to your post, I would say that "this song" is the song you are listening to, and the writer is fantasizing about the lady he likes digging his song as much as the dancer seems to be digging whatever song is inside that specific dancer.

And the songwriter wants to feel like that dancer, free or careless somehow. And careless also in relation to the girl he wants to enjoy his song. So the solution is the song itself. Let the song carry his burden, so to speak, and express his care, longing, constipation, etc, so that, as the song happens, is played, by him or someone else, he begins to become the dancer.

And now you, the listener, begin to become the songwriter, watching the songwriter, who is now the dancer. So then you express the longing, etc, as the songwriter's proxy.

So the next logical step is, start dancing, dummy.