Monday, September 21, 2015

Song of the Day #205 - Joanna Newsom - Leaving the City

The harder the hit, the deeper the dent

This song is so good that the Youtube upload url actually contains coded messages expressing its godliness.

keke = Lil B's tabby cat
7BGz = Seven Based Godz
JPI = I dunno, it is too sacred, it is beyond me

It's been 8 years since In Rainbows and people still can't get over the novelty of an unconventional album release. Joanna Newsom has noted that now the most novel and exciting way of doing things is the old fashioned way of announcing that an album is coming out, and then releasing singles that give you a taste of the overall quality.

We are living in exciting times. A new Joanna Newsom single could come out on any given morning. I did not wake up today expecting this to be a memorable day. Or rather, I woke up expecting that that quality would only come from within, that I would have to make memories this day, through my thought and achievement, and that was fine. But this is even better, because now anything I do or say will fall on holy spacetime.

"Sometimes I think I like Joanna Newsom. And then I see your stuff and I'm like 'Yeah, I ain't there'." - A friend, on my Joanna Newsom fandom.

Joanna Newsom has done the traditional folk thing of making a few albums and then starting to use an electric guitar and "rock drums" to piss everyone off, and to make incredible music that would be impossible otherwise. The instrumentation here provides a certain restlessness, a rushing sensation, a cascading. It matches perfectly with her awesomely kinetic vocals during the climax of the song... the layering rhymes, sometimes within the line, sometimes with the line after next, so much assonance, so flowing, like ripples through wheat fields. It's this sort of outburst that I found so powerful and addictive on the transition on "Sapokanikan"...

But there's also a formalism, a sort of sophistication and complexity, that makes it clear this isn't just anyone's emotional cloudbreak... Like when the electric guitar first comes in? Around :30? The interplay between it and the harp and piano is just sublime... So, on one hand, you have this loud, electric, roaring tone, one that signifies the emotional angst of the song in general, emerging so naturally from this disposition, but she just naturally thinks in chords, it seems...

And on another level, the storytelling of the song seems distinct from Joanna Newsom as an actual person and artist, and thus the emotional motivation is partially that of a character, and that there is a two-layered manufacturing... that of the storyteller and the way in which that storyteller would convey the story, and although the realness and closeness makes it clear that Newsom is herself intensely invested in this story, there is still a distinction that allows for this duality of emotional rawness alongside really beautiful and complex sophisticated music.

So what is this story and character and stuff? Man I don't even know. There's a lot of Williams Carlos Williams-style imagery. Y'know the red wheelbarrow and the chickens and stuff? I always thought that was about how our understanding of the world depends on us believing those sort of scenes existing somewhere unseen out in the country. I live in the country atm and I still believe they're in some even deeper country, some purer country. Okay but here instead of "so much depending" on that, it's "all that we are allowed"... So is it about resigning yourself to that sort of inconsequential life? Jesus I dunno there's a lot more to it than that but we'll leave it for later and just listen to it on repeat and let something sink in.

No comments: