I dunno about you, but I could use a pick-me-up.
I fell while running last night. It was dark, the sidewalk was uneven, and I ate it in spectacular fashion. My hands got pretty scraped up, but the wounds to my pride cut much deeper. If I had to use one word to describe the feeling I had when I was lying on the pavement, it would probably be “dorky.” There’s something really lame about that type of sports injury, because it brings into focus just how un-rugged modern life can be. It’s not like my hands got torn up while fending off a lion or building a log cabin. I was jogging. In the ‘burbs. Listening to my iPod. Wearing neon-colored clothes. And I fell.
So like I said, I need a pick-me-up, and I’m looking to you, Dan Deacon.
For the longest time, I had no idea that “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a Queen song. This totally blew my mind when I first found out. The song’s rockabilly simplicity and Elvis-tinged vocals scream 1959, not 1979 — the latter being the year Freddie Mercury reportedly penned the tune while lounging in a hotel bath tub. If I had to trace the emotional pathway that led away from this revelation, it would probably look a little something like this:
The best music conversations are the ones that never really end. They live on in the reminders you enter into your phone’s notes application — a band name you don’t want to forget or the title of a documentary that needs to be added to your Netflix queue. They pick back up thanks to the follow-up emails, tweets and texts in which the recommendee shares a reaction with the recommender, or the recommender finally remembers the album name that a few too many beers spirited away. They leave traces, like the stack of records that flew out of the crate because they demanded to be played (you can only talk for so long about how Exile on Main St. was recorded before you’re morally obligated to put it on).
Mrs. You Hear That and I hosted some friends from out of town over the long holiday weekend (the same friends who clued me into Moon Hooch a little while back), and our many music conversations — exchanges about Exile, the George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World, Jack White’s Blunderbuss and the mention of King Sunny Adé in Pitchfork’s vicious Body Faucet review — are still bouncing around the front of my brain, just as surely as the above-pictured records are still leaning against the side of my TV stand.
Feeling understood is great. Songs with lyrics that make it seem like someone out in the world really gets you are worth their weight in gold. So how about music that can make you feel understood even though the lyrics are written in a language you don’t speak? That’s a serious accomplishment, and it’s how the Very Best has made me feel over and over again.
So how do they do it? What’s their secret for breaking down the language barrier? Four words: cultural points of reference.