Friday, August 10, 2007

Yellow house

My appreciation of music has always been deeply egotistical. I don't pay any attention to lyrics because I frankly don't care about the meaning the artist is attempting to convey. I care only about the meaning that I create -- arbitrarily and subjectively, yes, I admit -- as I hear the music.

For me, Belle and Sebastian = my swirling sunny emotions in the summer of 1999. Camper Van Beethoven = driving back from my Dairy Queen job, night-time, humming merrily along to myself, high school 1990. I'm not so interested in the technical facts about these bands.

Unsurprisingly, then, I've long been a fan of music with lyrics difficult to decipher: R.E.M., The Cocteau Twins, and so on. I'm also quite partial to music without any lyrics at all. This is the sort of music I can easily tack my memories to and claim as my own.

Grizzly Bear's critically acclaimed 2006 release, Yellow House, is such an album. Since I first started listening to it a few weeks ago, it has become ever more entertwined with nostalgia nodes deep within my mind. You know that feeling when you hear a song or an album a few times and you realize: I will always associate this music with this particular time in my life? Yes.

A text message I sent a few weeks ago sums up my experience with Yellow House: "Floating down the sidewalk on a grizzlybear-spun cloud."

I mentioned nostalgia. Again, I don't know what Grizzly Bear is singing about in this album, nor do I care to know. The thing is, I grew up in a yellow house -- lived there from 1981 - 1991. So I declare that this album is all about me and my own memories. I'll sign off with a quotidian quote from my journal written exactly twenty years ago, on August 10, 1987:

Today we went to Ruiz's to get some games. Some of the games: Mule, Alley Cat, Pool 400. Katy and I played a game of Farming Game today down here in the basement. Katy won. When the game ended, she had 140 cows, I had 110.
P.S. Go here (warning: music starts playing when you load the page) and download On a Neck, On a Spit right away. It's a very good song.

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8 comments:

Castaway said...

interesting topic...
"I don't pay any attention to lyrics because I frankly don't care about the meaning the artist is attempting to convey. I care only about the meaning that I create..." which is exactly why MTV and videos have served to diminsih folk's abilities to create fresh music... just as lyrics along with instrumentation appeal to some sort of creative reflex to ineterpret and approve or dissapprove, i think the visual component of this process has been retarded as many people now reflexivly expect to be fed the image rather than visual it...
always being fed the same, creates an enivronemtn in which "artists" create the same desired content...

cheers!

Jonathan said...

Hi Castaway, thanks for your comment. I'm not sure I agree that MTV etc has diminished creativity. There's plenty of fresh and original music being created out there, but you've generally got to dig for it.

For the reasons I list above, music videos have definitely never appealed to me. For me, music becomes so deeply personalized that often, if I see images of people performing it, those get in the way of my own experience with the music.

Live music is different, though, and I'm not sure why. I see a live music experience as fundamentally different than listening to the recorded counterpart -- it's not a personal thing, but a group experience.

wngl said...

I seem to recall that you really dig Sigur Ros. Now I know why?

The G-Bear is great, true J-pop.

Jonathan said...

Hey Wngl, yes! Sigur Ros is definitely J-pop. I mainline it straight into my unconscious. :)

Vanessa said...

I love Yellow House by Grizzly Bear. They played here in February and were fantastic.

Jonathan said...

They'll be coming to Seattle next month and I'd definitely like to see them.

bethany said...

so looking at this picture...mom and dad had a matching love seat to the couch they have now?

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