Archive for the ‘The Postal Service’ Category

manner SOUNDTRACK: BEN GIBBARD-Tiny Desk Concert #251 (November 19, 2012).

benBen Gibbard is the voice of Death Cab for Cutie.  His voice is instantly recognizable and his melodies are surprisingly catchy.

This Tiny Desk Concert (they say it’s number 250, but I count 251) is just him and his acoustic guitar.  I didn’t know he did solo work, but apparently he does (in addition to being in The Postal Service and All-Time Quarterback).

Gibbard just released a solo album, Former Lives, which he’s said is a repository for material that didn’t work as Death Cab for Cutie songs; from that record, only “Teardrop Windows” pops up in his Tiny Desk Concert. For the rest, he draws from Death Cab’s most recent album (“St. Peter’s Cathedral,” from Codes and Keys) and, of all places, last year’s Arthur soundtrack (“When the Sun Goes Down on Your Street”).

As mentioned he plays three songs and his voice is so warm and familiar I felt like I knew these songs even if I didn’t.

I knew “St. Peter’s Cathedral.” It is a lovely song with very little in the way of chord changes.  But the melody is gentle and pretty.  And the song appears to be entirely about this church.  Which is interesting because the second song is also about a building in Seattle.  “Teardrop Windows” is a surprisingly sad song about an inanimate object.  It’s written from the building’s point of view as he mourns that no one uses him anymore.  And such beautiful lyrics too:

Once built in boast as the tallest on the coast he was once the city’s only toast / In old postcards was positioned as the star, he was looked up to with fond regard / But in 1962 the Needle made its big debut and everybody forgot what it outgrew

The final song “When the Sun Goes Down on Your Street” was indeed for the Russel Brand movie Arthur.  Somehow I can’t picture those two together.  It’s a lovely song, too.

I prefer Gibbard’s more upbeat and fleshed out music, but it’s great to hear him stripped down as well.

[READ: January 2017] “My Writing Education: A Time Line,” “The Bravery of E.L. Doctorow,” “Remembering Updike,” and “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” 

I had been planning to have my entire month of February dedicated to children’s books.  I have a whole bunch that I read last year and never had an opportunity to post them.  So I thought why not make February all about children’s books.  But there is just too much bullshit going on in our country right now–so much hatred and ugliness–that I felt like I had to get this post full of good vibes out there before I fall completely into bad feelings myself. It;s important to show that adults can be kind and loving, despite what our leaders demonstrate.  Fortunately most children’s books are all about that too, so the them holds for February.

George Saunders is a wonderful writer, but he is also a very kind human being.  Despite his oftentimes funny, sarcastic humor, he is a great humanitarian and is always very generous with praise where it is warranted.

The other day I mentioned an interview with Saunders at the New York Times.  Amid a lot of talk with and about Saunders, there is this gem:

Junot Díaz described the Saunders’s effect to me this way: “There’s no one who has a better eye for the absurd and dehumanizing parameters of our current culture of capital. But then the other side is how the cool rigor of his fiction is counterbalanced by this enormous compassion. Just how capacious his moral vision is sometimes gets lost, because few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”

These first three pieces are all examples of his love and respect for other writers–both for their skill and for their generosity.

“My Writing Education: A Time Line”

“My Writing Education” comes from a book called A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors.  Saunders’ mentor was Tobias Wolff.  And for this essay, his admiration takes the form of a diary.  (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_08_13Ulriksen.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE POSTAL SERVICE-“A Tattered Line of String” (2013).

postalI enjoyed The Postal Service record but I wasn’t as big of a Death Cab for Cutie fan at the time.  Now, having enjoyed DCFC so much in the last couple of years, this song sounds much more like a DCFC song but with keyboards (Ben’s voice is so distinctive).

This song has been released with the reissue of the Postal Service album.  It’s not on the original but it also sounds like it might be a remix (the skittery backing vocals make me think remix).

Either way this is a supremely catchy song (Gibbard knows from melody) and when you throw the keyboards and dancey beats on it, it’s even more poppy than DCFC’s stuff.  I wonder why the album wasn’t bigger when it came out.

[READ: April 21, 2013] “Valentine”

Tessa Hadley has written another story that I enjoyed–with that same quaint feeling of love in 1970s England.

The story opens with the narrator Stella and her friend Madeleine waiting at the bus stop.  They are fifteen, have never kissed boys, and think about nothing else (especially since they go to an all girls school).   Madeleine is willowy with long curls a “kitten face” and “luscious breasts” while Stella is small, plump and shapeless.

As they wait for the bus, Valentine approaches (yes I though the title was about the day not a person).  He is in school as well but he is new to them.  Valentine has just moved to the area from Malaya.  And, as he sizes them up, offering them each a smoke, when it comes down to it, amazingly, he chooses Stella.

She likes him because he is different as she is different–they are clearly soulmates.  While her parents (well, Gerry is her stepdad) don’t ‘t approve of him (his hair, his dress, his attitude).  He barely talks to her parents when they interrogate him and then he imitates their voices when they are alone.  Regardless of what others thought or really, because if it, they are soon hanging out all the time.  And soon he is her boyfriend.  And soon enough she had lost weight (because all they did was talk and smoke), they died their hair black (a proto-goth in the hippie 70s) and they basically began to look alike. (more…)

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