Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bridges and Balloons. (i know.. No one cares but me)


i am utterly smitten with this song. i chose this user created youtube vid because it's so perfect, isn't it?

i have never written about a song. i love many, .. many. but there is something about this one. i'm sure my friends are over me bursting into this song on the street. it's almost never not on my mind.

i didn't know who Joanna Newsom was at all. how i discovered her is an interesting story. Pharoahe was talking to Nottz about doing some music. Nottz is notorious for having people come down to his lair in VA to work, but he had sent some beats for Monch to listen to. (BANANAS, that guy.) Among them was the track that ended up being Break Bread, the lead song from the Nottz/ Asher Roth project. Incredible track. We would listen to it on loop for an hour straight. We had a bit of difficulty figuring out what the sample was saying, though. My vote was for "should we raise the rent?" I had a ridiculously involved backstory about a group of orphaned siblings, 'Party Of 5' style, living in a huge house they'd partially subletted out, running out of their dead parents' savings and wondering how they would continue to pay the mortgage..

.. it was 'should we break some bread' though. From a song called Sprout And The Bean. Pharoahe found the music. he played it and i was blown away by her unique, quirky voice.. and her lyricism. she loves words, this chick (and she's the one playing the harp on these songs).

and then he played me Bridges And Balloons.
if i have children, this song will be my favorite lullaby to sing them.
i think it's a gorgeous allegory, an achingly realistic and yet somehow beautifully idealized love story.

the 1st verse lyrics go:

we sailed away on a winter's day
with fate as malleable as clay
but ships are fallible, i say
and the nautical, like all things, fades
and i can recall our caravel
a little wicker beetle shell
with four fine mast and lateen sails
it's bearings on Cair Paravel
oh my love
oh, it was a funny little thing
to be the ones to've seen.


this verse describes the embarking on the journey.. the decision to fall in love.. or, to be in love. there is doubt, and perhaps the situation isn't optimal, as suggested by the choice of season and the reference to the fallible nature of ships. but the vessel (trust, faith, hope?) is sturdy and properly adorned, and is headed toward Cair Paravel. I got hype at the reference on some nerdy elementary school ish... because Cair Paravel is the island kingdom where the Kings and Queens of Narnia ruled in the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
isn't that lovely? *sigh*


2nd verse goes:

the sight of bridges and balloons makes
calm canaries irritable
and they caw and claw all afternoon
"catenaries and dirigibles"
brace and buoy the living- room
a loom of metal, warp woof wimble
and a thimble's worth of milky moon
can touch hearts larger than a thimble

oh my love
oh, it was a funny little thing
to be the ones to've seen
oh my love
oh it was a funny little thing,
it was a funny, funny little thing

this verse continues on in graceful exposition, describing the ride. i go back and forth on what the birds are to symbolize, if anything. birds can mean good, or bad news. (iono abt no canaries tho.) but i was incredibly impressed at the cleverness of the birds cries/warnings, as "catenaries and dirigibles" are just bridges and balloons. i think i may have at some point said out loud "haha... she rhymed 'irritable' with 'dirigible'".. because I'm a giant dork.

i love the suggestions of the sounds and sights in this verse. it puts me right in their moment, and i can absolutely imagine myself laying, braced and buoyed next to a lover on a gently shifting boat, listening to its natural sounds and staring up at a milky moon. or, to depart from the metaphor, fully living in a gloriously perfect moment with a lover, knowing and appreciating the beauty of just this, right now.

i get the feeling the relationship didn't last. and i relate to that too. it was still an amazing ride, though.

ok. now perhaps I can think about the song a little bit less. hopefully? sheesh.



3 comments:

  1. Canaries used to be taken down mines to warn miners - they're more sensitive to gas than humans, so if they stopped singing and collapsed (or in this case, got unhappy) it meant imminent danger. and of course dirigables and zeppelins tend to be full of hot gas, which makes us buoyant but is also dangerous.

    you know all this, I'm just sayin'

    thanks for taking the time to spell out how this made you feel. I'm working on a short story I think you'd like, if I can just make myself write the damn thing

    (this was regenklang from twitter, yo)

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  2. i didn't know about the canaries.. that adds another layer, possibly. :) thanks!

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