Saturday, February 11, 2006
if you walk away, i'll walk away

One Song: Perfect Songs for an Imperfect World

download: Bright Eyes - Landlocked Blues

I never "got" Conor Oberst before 2005. Sure, he had a great tune in him here or there, but the overemotional crap and the vocal "quirks" that peppered the material between every "Make War" and "Lover, I Don't Have To Love" were a little too much for my liking. He's always been divisive. Either he's the next Dylan in your eyes, or you think he's a complete write off, and by in large, I fell into the latter camp. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning changed all of that.

I actually remember ribbing a friend who went out to pick up the record the day of it's release, even before I'd heard it. (sorry Shea) It was just another Bright Eyes record, right? Not quite. I'm Wide Awake... was consistent; consistentally strong, in fact. All those things that annoyed me about Oberst before (mostly how "emotion" translated into a gutteral wail) were gone. And, while it's still hyperbole, those Dylan comparisons weren't totally laughable anymore. I fell in love with the entire album, in fact, I'm listening to it right now, and I listened to it yesterday, and once the day before that. The record is great as a whole, but it's track 8, three songs from the end, that makes this album. That song is "Landlocked Blues."

The structure is a simple one, but it's also got that feel to it. It's simple in the way that "The Time They Are A Changin'" or "Ringing of Revolution" (Phil Ochs) or "Helpless" is simple. There's no Brian Wilsonesque genius chord changes, but the sound is undeniably classic. The lyrics seem effortless, instinctual even, but at the same time so carefully and meticulously crafted - deeply personal, but with some strangely wide scope, personal and political, with a feeling of loss that ties them both together - all crammed into five and a half odd minutes. Whenever I sit down with my guitar, this is the kind of song I wish I could write, but I never do. It's the type of song that could stand alone as just guitar and vocals, but the arrangement is very much a part of the larger, glorious, whole.

Tasteful acoustic leads fill in the space between the verses, and those magnificent sounding horns blare out what sounds like "Taps," which isn't so much odd, as it is incredibly fitting. And then there's Emmylou Harris. I've read some people opine that the country Miss took away from this song (that was widely known via live recordings before it's official release), but, if you ask me, the ragged harmony that she provides is the final bit of icing on the cake.

now playing: Bright Eyes - Landlocked Blues

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Such a great song, but I've always been a bigger Bright Eyes fan than you.

Have you heard the first released version of this song called "One Foot In Front of the Other"? It was released on a Saddle Creek compilation in...2004 I think. Has a slightly more full band production, but no Emmylou.

I can send you an mp3 if you want.

By Anonymous Sean, at 9:44 p.m.  

i would enjoy that greatly

By Blogger Quinn, at 10:18 p.m.  

Here you go:

and it comes from this Saddle Creek comp:

By Anonymous Sean, at 11:55 p.m.  

thanks Sean...

though I have to say, I enjoy the new version a whole lot more... that may be my natural bias towards a little twang though.

By Blogger Quinn, at 1:27 a.m.  

Feb 24th - Book of Lists @ Pat's Pub
Mar 3rd - Ladyhawk @ 156 W Hastings

By Anonymous Shea, at 5:36 p.m.  

this album took about six months to grow on me. I found it a little too consistent and clean. I like my bright eyes messy. but this is the song that got me and keeps getting me, and when I played it on my radio show people called in to ask what it was.

By Blogger erin, at 11:26 p.m.  

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mp3s are for preview purposes, if you like what you hear, buy it at your favourite indie record store. please don't direct link to photos. click for more.

writing by Quinn
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