Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Song Salute

My blog page misses me, you guys miss me, my mommy misses me. I haven't been writing lately, ya know? I have my reasons, but instead of sharing them I think I'll keep you in a dispirited state of wonder instead. Mean, Mick, very mean. Today is Saturday Song Salute though, and I intend on letting the world hear one of the greatest songs ever created (the world = half a dozen bloggers). The band is Bright Eyes and the song I've chosen is called Four Winds (from their 2007 album Cassadaga).

Here we go, this is what music is all about. Four Winds has it all, folks. It soars musically with a wonderfully catchy tune created by a slew of instruments, i.e. guitar, mandolin, banjo, organ, lap steel, percussion, violin, etc. Upon first hearing it I found myself intrigued by the "country" feel, but when Conor enters and begins singing in his rhythmic cadence, everything changes. And this is where the lyrics take over and my brain begins dissecting the importance of the song. What does it mean? What is Conor singing about? Well, let's pick it apart, shall we?

Overall, I feel Four Winds is a song about personal confliction over religion and the history of mankind. The lyrics begin by highlighting the fact that humans segregate themselves (via class, caste, country, sect, tribe) and develop a sense of superiority over those who are not like their own, and from there they just keep getting stronger. Multiple references to religion throughout, as well as a shout-out to Yeat's poem, The Second Coming, in the line "and it's the sum of man slouching towards Bethlehem", which uses Christian imagery as an allegory for revolution. In the bible, book of Ezekiel, god discusses the Valley of Dry Bones and makes reference to the "four winds" that will blow and breathe life into the dead bodies of Israel. It's very possible Conor was raised Christian (like I was) and at some point departed from his faith (like I did) and turned towards spirituality and mysticism. His reference to Cassadaga (and his naming of the album) says quite a bit, as does the opening monologue on track one that speaks of a life journey and a search for inner tranquility. Cassadaga is a world renowned spiritualist camp in Florida where mediums, psychics, shamans and spiritual healers congregate and learn from each other year round. This place was an obvious inspiration to Conor during the creation of this album. Another section of the song I especially love are the following lyrics: "And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps, In the black hills, the bad lands, the calloused east, I buried my ballast, I made my peace, Heard four winds leveling the pines." This was an inspiration to me during my travels across the U.S.A. I was drawn to Deadwood, South Dakota because of its dark history of violence against the Native Americans, so I camped out there for several nights and "listened" to the lost voices of the Black Hills while my campfire crackled in the night.

In closing, I guess this song means a great deal to me because it hits on all the things I think about in life too. I share similar thoughts with Conor and can appreciate what he's singing about here, and I thank him for creating such an important song (that I've listened to no less than a thousand times). Listen and enjoy, my dispirited readers:
Four Winds

Your class, your caste, your country, sect, your name or your tribe
There's people always dying, trying to keep them alive
There are bodies decomposing in containers tonight
In an abandoned building where

A squatter's made a mural of a Mexican girl
With fifteen cans of spray paint in a chemical swirl
She's standing in the ashes at the end of the world
Four winds blowing through her hair

But when great Satan's gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can't sustain the pressure where it's placed
She caves

The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute
If you burn them all together, you get close to the truth still
They are pouring over Sanskrit on the ivy league moons
While shadows lengthen in the sun

Cast on a school of meditation built to soften the times
And hold us at the center while the spiral unwinds
It's knocking over fences, crossing property lines
Four winds, cry until it comes

And it's the sum of man
Slouching towards Bethlehem
A heart just can't contain all of that empty space
It breaks, it breaks, it breaks

Well, I went back to my rented Cadillac and company jet
Like a newly orphaned refugee, retracing my steps
All the way to Cassadaga to commune with the dead
They said, 'You'd better look alive.'

And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps
In the black hills, the bad lands, the calloused east
I buried my ballast, I made my peace
Heard four winds leveling the pines

But when great Satan's gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can't remain with all that outer space
She breaks, she breaks, she caves, she caves

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