Sunday, November 16, 2008

six ways from sunday: fine lines

Lone pine on Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy. (2008).

In the faceless crush of the city, a man sits on a bench and stares into space while everything around him - sun, clouds, traffic, and crowds - speeds by in time-lapse fast forward. Is he the calm in the eye of an urban storm or an outcast outsider excluded from the hurry of the consensus normal? For all the artistic, split-toned cinematography, I don't know. But maybe any question which seeks to map the dominion of the normal is inherently unfair anyway. After all, these are things drawn and separated by fine lines.

So, about the man on the bench: sometimes, when life swirls at a clip unsynchronized with everything else, a tired and lonely mind results. But one has to figure, like the fleetingness of blue-sky rain, things look to get better from here.

This motion picture is in need of a soundtrack, which is why we're here. As is customary with our (now) regular Six Ways from Sunday music column, active links below lead to full-length, YouTube clips of a six-pack mix tape. Happy listening, wherever you are.

1. Let Go :: Frou Frou :: Details (2002). Imogen Heap's lush and expressive vocals layer Guy Sigsworth's ambient production values in Let Go, a track best known for its inclusion in the soundtrack of Garden State, a generation-defining independent film starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. (Rent it, if you haven't seen it yet). "So, let go ... so, let go / Jump in / Oh well, whatcha waiting for? / It's all right / 'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown."

2. Such Great Heights :: Iron & Wine :: Such Great Heights (2003). Samuel Beam's slowdown, heart-wrenching, acoustic cover of the Postal Service's very different electro-pop original (whose riffs scored several UPS TV commercials that aired in North America). "True, it may seem like a stretch / But it's thoughts like this / That catch my troubled head / When you're away, when I am missing you to death."

3. Breathe Me :: Sia :: Colour the Small One (2004). Once a backup singer for Jamiroquai, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Australian Sia Furler stuns centre stage with the piano-driven melody, Breathe Me. The track featured prominently in the finale of the cult-hit HBO series, Six Feet Under. "Help, I have done it again / I have been here many times before / Hurt myself again today / And, the worst part is there's no one else to blame."

4. In the Waiting Line :: Zero 7 :: Simple Things (2001). The soothing, soulful voice of Sophie Barker buttresses the jazzy, sophisticated, trip-hop of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. "Do you believe in what you see? / Motionless wheel, nothing is real / Wasting my time in the waiting line."

5. Pink Moon :: Nick Drake :: Pink Moon (1972). Nick Drake embodies the mood of this post more than any other on the list. Lonely, clinically depressed, and wildly talented, the English folk-rocker died from an overdose of anti-depressants in 1974. Like many an artist, posthumous success has found Drake. Volkswagen licensed Pink Moon for a well-received TV commercial around a decade ago, which added to Drake's growing legend. "I saw it written and I saw it say / Pink moon is on the way / And none of you stand so tall / Pink moon gonna get you all."

6. I Will Follow You Into the Dark :: Death Cab for Cutie :: Plans (2005). The Pacific Northwest, indie-rock stylings of Ben Gibbard and Company soundtrack an instant YouTube video classic. Everyone loves the rabbits. "If heaven and hell decide / That they both are satisfied / Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs / If there's no one beside you / When your soul embarks / Then I'll follow you into the dark."


  1. I love Frou Frou! I also love your photography! Hope things are going well for you. Things are looking up for us here in the US. No doubt you've heard. ;)

  2. Hi Rebecca! I'm doing great, in some ways, never been better. And of course, no doubt we've been following with interest regarding the recent developments in your country. Yes, you can - and you did! Congratulations.

  3. Wow, this list is really good. I absolutely love Nick Drake. Wanted to tell you about AM Sounds, his songs haven't left my ipod playlist in over a week--especially "New Road" with Meiko. Well worth checking out :)

  4. Thanks for stopping in, Chissy ... and also for the heads up on AM Sounds. I'll be sure to check it out.