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Old 07-24-2009, 11:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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'Funeral' by Arcade Fire


Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. He said something particularly relevant and poignant during the book 'Cat's Cradle', and sums up for me why death is so scary. “There's nothing sadder in the languages of mice and men than the phrase 'it could have been.'” That's why we fear dying and spend our whole life trying to evade it. We're afraid of the regret we'll feel when our time is finally up. At least, I am. Some people say they live without regret. Some people are liars.

The girl in the red dress at the bus station I didn't talk to and will never see again.

Adaptation is a hell of a concept to wrap your head around. Doing what you gotta do to get by. It isn't easy being a human, the only species on the planet aware of their own mortality, of their own fleeting glory. But the concept of mortality never really hits you until you experience the death of a loved one. The first time I really experienced death was Sophomore year in high school. A friend of mine died. He wasn't the first person who I knew who died, but he was the first person close to me. Great Aunts and Grandparents I'd seen twice in my life, they'd died. But not a friend.

We were in the same guitar class in high school. He was sort of annoying at first, but he grew on me. He was a senior, a really out there stoner. He would constantly play Sublime songs. But we became friends.

There was another kid in the town over who, Andy, that was his name, Andrew, who Andy was friends with. He got his hands on some booze and decided to do something stupid. Did he decide that this was the night he would die? No. But he did decide to do something stupid, and he must bear some of that blame. The kid died that night. Andy, being the good friend he was, decided to trek out to the very telephone pole where his friend had lost his life merely hours previous and play a tribute to him. The last thing Andy saw were the headlights of a car coming towards him. Splintered pieces of his acoustic guitar were scattered all about the road. He died on impact. We can only assume he was killed by another drunk driver. The driver has never been caught. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to say 'So it goes', and I think that's one of the more appropriate things you can say in a situation as dark and needless as that.

Also, Andy had a girlfriend. She was pregnant. I've seen the baby. He has his father's nose.

Say whatever you want about this album, one thing's for certain, it isn't a dirge. Chopin's Funeral March is a dirge. Mozart's Requiem is a dirge. This album however, this is a celebration. A celebration of life and the possibilities it can hold. A warm embrace. There's a scope to this album, something I hadn't encountered before and something I've encountered only a few times since. When I say scope I don't mean 'scope' as in something as petty as a concept album. Concept albums really hold no weight in a marketplace flooded by bands who solely produce said albums. See the whole progressive genre if ye doubt my claim. The scope I'm talking about is something grander than shallow stories and poorly conveyed themes. I'm talking big. Grand like a symphony. Something that seems self conscious of the fact that it might get beamed out into the universe and wants to prepare accordingly so it doesn't make a fool of itself. You know, grand on a universal scale, like a nebula or two galaxies slowly colliding and messing up the gravity of entire solar systems. That's what I mean when I say this album has scope.

Is it weird to feel like you know an album so well it's like you've walked around inside of it? Because that's how I feel about this album. I know every twist and turn by now but I never get tired of it. I let it envelope me. Wash over me. A sonic deluge.

For the band this album was a sort of catharsis. An exorcism. I can see that. I can see myself listening to it for that very reason. To chase out my demons. There are many forms of catharsis. Of exorcism. Dance is one of them. And strangely enough this album is very danceable. It's grand tone shifts keep up an energy that is simply improbable for an album that's about such dark things.

One more thing: one of the most important statements I've ever heard in music, right up there with 'you can't always get what you want', is in the song 'Wake Up'. It says:

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

Adaptation. The meaning of it all. How can we deal with changes so profound? I have two answers, both courtesy of Arcade Fire.

Dance.

Adjust.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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This journal is awesome and I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing. Especially the Arcade Fire one. It's a really unique and personal way to look at albums, which I love. Keep it up!
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Old 07-25-2009, 04:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Great album review/essay. You writing style is a bit out there for me, but I should be checking on this as often as you add to it as I thoroughly enjoy the read. Very interesting.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:42 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davey Moore View Post
You see, the music that sticks with us and become pieces of our puzzles are the ones we find in our adolescent years all the way through our early to mid-twenties. The music you are into and the music that will affect you most throughout life will be the music you find in that time period. It's almost like a race against time.
I don't believe this is a true statement. While nostalgia for that time in one's life shouldn't be underestimated, the fact that my old ass is (just as) highly affected by music that I found after my mid-20s is my proof. What's yours?

In any case, "On Fire" (as well as much of your list) is a gem that I found in my adolescence thru mid-20s so I'm interested to see what you will do with my puzzle pieces.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:44 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine View Post
I don't believe this is a true statement. While nostalgia for that time in one's life shouldn't be underestimated, the fact that my old ass is (just as) highly affected by music that I found after my mid-20s is my proof. What's yours?

In any case, "On Fire" (as well as much of your list) is a gem that I found in my adolescence thru mid-20s so I'm interested to see what you will do with my puzzle pieces.
Well, fair enough. Considering I haven't left my twenties or even entered them, I guess I'll take your word for it. I said it because it was something my dad said, who said he loved music and loved music today, but no music could mean more to him than the music he grew up with.

Anyway, I'm so excited by the response here. I'll be sure to work extra hard, haha.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:06 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Also, I just noticed this and found it quite humorous, look at Arcade Fire. They look down and surely approve of my essay. Either that or they are like, 'wtf is this guy talking about?'
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I have a new favorite thread. I think I may download every album that I don't have as you review them. IMO you're the best writer on the site. Looking forward to this x1000
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:21 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I'm about 2/3 through my third essay and I found this article online that seemed rather relevant to the album I'm writing about. If you know the album, as most of you probably are, it's certainly been talked about quite alot, you'll instantly get it and be weirdly fascinated like I was.

Two-headed boy born in Bangladesh - Telegraph
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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'In The Aeroplane over the Sea' by Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)


When you were young...the world was better, wasn't it? Nostalgia is a hell of a trick. Despite what your memory tells you, things weren't as great as they seemed, and for some, when they were young, it was hell. Ask Elie Wiesel.

If you've heard of Steven Erikson, you'll probably feel the same way as I do, that he has written the greatest series of fantasy books in history with his series 'Tales from the Malazan Book of the Fallen.' It isn't just quality fantasy, it can hold it's own against other epic literature. It's profound in the themes it introduces, it's staggering scope, and the beautifully rendered characters. I know, I'm supposed to be singing the praises of Jeff Mangum, the Thomas Pynchon or JD Salinger of the Elephant 6 Collective. But there's something that Steven Erikson wrote in the second book of the series, 'Deadhouse Gates', a quote which illuminates and reveals many themes within Aeroplane:

Quote:
Lull nodded. 'That's a succinct summary of humankind, I'd say. Who needs tomes and volumes of history? Children are dying. The injustices of the world hide in those three words. Quote me, Duiker, and your work's done.'
That's the central theme of Aeroplane. Children are dying. And Jeff Mangum is having a nervous breakdown because he can't save them. He wants to take the burdens of the world on his shoulder and make everything OK, but he can't. Nobody can. And that's the tragedy of humanity. Children are dying. I think a large part of Jeff Mangum is inner child. That's how he can sing with such sincerity, seemingly brushing cynicism aside. And this inner child has fallen in love with a ghost he will never meet.

And in my dreams you're alive, and you're crying, as your mouth moves into mine.

They call themselves fuzz-folk. I call them geniuses. Let's ignore the great songwriting for a second and just look at instruments. There isn't a single instrument or single studio effect that is unnecessary. In fact, this is probably my favorite use of horns, ever. Another thing is the simplicity of the chords. We've seen these things millions of times before, yet they don't seem stale or cliché, thanks to the conviction of Mangum's singing and the background instrumentation.

If Mangum stays a recluse for the rest of his days, I wouldn't mind. He can't top this album. And the final sounds on the final song of this album speak volumes as he puts his guitar down and walks away. Sometimes, letting go is better. He deserves happiness, away from any sort of spotlight. I don't want another Cobain.

There's nothing I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. But I'll try and give you a bit of the back story. One day Jeff Mangum found a book, the diary of a young woman. Her name was Anne Frank, and he hadn't heard of her before, despite the amount of attention the book received. That speaks of a naivete and innocence that seems to be lacking in most adults. Once again, that inner child aspect which is so important, a side of his personality he seemed to preserve. I mention these things only because I believe them to be absolutely essential to develop an understanding of Mangum, and as a result his magnum opus, or should I say mangum opus? Zing.

Anyway, as he read the book, he wept, he wept because he couldn't save her. The entire time he read it, he wished he had a time machine so he could go back and save her. Anything would do, but maybe the best answer is he wanted an Aeroplane, and he would sail across the sea, over to Holland, the year being 1945, and save her. She haunted him in his dreams. There are many clues that the girl he is addressing is in fact a ghost and nothing more than a voice in a book.

There's a question of narration in this album. I reckon the majority of the time it's from one perspective. However, I don't know exactly if the narrator IS Mangum, or if it's a composite that represents Mangum. Does it really make a difference? There are some things about Mangum's life that we know, things that give us big clues as to it being him. Jeff Mangum's brother killed himself. To quote Two Headed Boy Pt. 2, “Brother see we are one in the same, and you left with your head filled with flames”

Maybe the question of who's perspective is irrelevant. Maybe the only thing that matters is that the perspective is so unique. Mangum seems to have two struggling aspects withing him, fighting for dominance. Maybe some people can be pushed to the edge of schizophrenia through natural means. Mangum seems to have reached it. It's almost like he has two heads. Freud may have an answer to who the two headed by might be. You know the phrase, don't let your little head control your big head? Wink, wink. Maybe that's what the two headed boy is.

Something happens inside of us when we grow up. In a way, our inner child slowly dies and withers within us. Mangum sees that as a tragedy. I do too. Children are dying.

And when we break...

I've never read the diary of this girl, but looking a series of quotes, they send chills through my spine. Empathy flows through me as I see what Mangum saw in her, her eloquence combined with the circumstances of her life are haunting. And yet I am slightly disturbed as I wonder if Mangum's obsession over Anne Frank was paternal, wishing nothing but her safety, or was it romantic? Look at these lyrics:
Quote:
And in my dreams you're alive and you're crying,
As your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet.
Rings of flowers round your eyes and I love you,
For the rest of your life (when you're ready).
Those final three words especially raise questions in my mind. She was only 15. But she wrote as an adult. Atrocity can age you awfully fast. I quickly shake the question from my head. Part of me doesn't want to know, and the other part of me realizes that right now in China, children are being kidnapped and sold on the black market. In Africa, warlords inject children with drugs and use them as expendable soldiers. Warlords are chopping off the hands of children as an example to an entire village. I think of Apocalypse Now, and a speech Marlon Brando made, about the Vietcong and how he walked into a burning village and in the center he was a pile of hands. Tiny little hands. Hands. Children are dying.

And when we break, we wait for our miracles, God is a place where some holy spectacle lies. And when we break, we wait for our miracles, God is a place we will wait for the rest of our lives.

And then I think of the words of a young girl, frantically scrawled in cheap ink, in a precious little diary her mother bought her as she hides from monsters, the pages lit by a little candle almost at it's end, a whole family trying to hide from something which was inevitable. Trying to avoid an atrocity. Children are dying.

Quote:
I don't believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.
Quote:
It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:51 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Can I please ask that you finish this bugger? You have made some awesome posts on MB but you then seem to disappear for months
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