Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some Debts You'll Never Pay

As we speak, Patti Smith is playing a show at the Roxy, promoting the new album and kicking off the tour. The Roxy, mind you, is a small club, holding maybe 200 people? And it is walking distance from my apartment. Where am I? At home, because I couldn't get tickets to see one of my favorite performers playing an intimate show at a club in my neighborhood singing new music that would probably rock my world.

To console myself, I bought Arcade Fire's new album, Neon Bible. It is beautiful. I don't care if they went to Exeter. (We're an Andover family, 'round these WASP-y parts.) I'm listening to "Intervention," and it is bringing a lump to my throat. There is a pipe organ (a real one, the organ at St. Jean Baptiste in Montreal), a snare drum lifted from 80's arena rock, a xylophone, strings, who knows what else. There is a simple strophic melody over a repeating vi-IV-I, lots of natural reverb. There are goddamn trumpet fanfares that make you want to pump your fist.

The singer sounds like Bruce Springsteen crossed with Billy Graham. You can't quite make out every word of the lyrics, but you can just tell they are deliciously depressing.
Working for the church
While your life falls apart.
Singing halleluiah with the fear in your heart.
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home.
Hear the solider groan, "We'll go at it alone"
Hear the solider groan, "We'll go at it alone"
But because you can only make out the occasional word, that shouted "We'll got at it alone" starts to feel triumphant, and the music keeps crescendoing, and, and, you're torn between abjection and uplift, and...man. Good stuff. Ineffable, even.

Oops, I almost forgot. Most pop music has a limited emotional range. Nevermind.

2 comments:

sushipjs said...

Biting my tongue as we speak.

Caroline said...

ha! you quoted exactly the lyrics that make me cringe on the album. although if Springsteen sang them it would be less cringe worthy. i really like the album, but... "every spark of friendship and love will die without a home" ?!?!?!