Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Ben Knox Miller

The Low Anthem has been one of the more pleasant musical surprises of the last few years, a band gentle or abrasive depending on the song, but always thoughtful in its lyrics and themes. The following is the first track off their 2008 album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, which you can listen to here and (thus) follow along if you like. As it happens, I wrote about OMGCD as one of my favorite albums of the year back in 2009:
The album as a whole is equal to its beginning, an energetic mix of acoustic harmonies and electric hooks. But the lyrics are the biggest draw, evocatively interlocking -- as the album's title suggests -- God and world in an intimate dance. Consistent water imagery overlays the music with the sense of a threatened narrative, a worldview under siege, waters rising but somehow stayed. Time and life "float above the storm," and "them ghosts who write history books" look back at the chaos and pen the songs that tell the story of a world that keeps marching along. The Low Anthem's music and words themselves become the means through which that chaos comes to order.
Sounds like some legit music criticism to me. And yes, I did just quote myself from a previous blog post. My blogging credentials are now complete.

(Note: The song may be co-written by fellow T.L.A. co-founder Jeff Prystowsky. I don't think it is, but just in case: now you know.)

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Charlie Darwin

Ben Knox Miller (of The Low Anthem)

Set the sails: I feel the winds a-stirring
Towards the bright horizon, set the way
Cast your reckless dreams upon our Mayflower
A haven from the world and her decay

Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin?
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from the broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

Oh my God, the water’s all around us
Oh my God -- it’s all around

Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin?
Lords of war just profit from decay
And trade their children’s promise for the jingle
The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay

Oh my God, the water’s cold and shapeless
Oh my God -- it’s all around

Oh my God, life is cold and formless
Oh my God -- it’s all around

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