I loved Granddaddy, but didn’t listen to any of his solo stuff. So I don’t really know how different it sounds. For this Tiny Desk Concert, he plays two songs from his 2012 solo album Dept. of Disappearance and one Grandaddy track.
“Willow Wand Willow Wand” is a catchy song with just him and a drum machine playing a backing beat. He sounds like the guy from Grandaddy but slightly different….
Introducing “Get Up and Go,” he explains that he’s been really enjoying playing his songs in this stripped down format. He really likes making records that are big and produced. And now he likes not feeling pressure to do them in concert that way. He’s happy to not try to pull off all of the bells and whistles in a live environment. “Get Up and Go” is a “happy and peppy song and this isn’t a happy and peppy version of it.”
This song is quite slow. Again its him on guitar but at the appropriate moments in the chorus he hits a key on the keyboard and a little melody (very Granddaddy) plays briefly.
After this song you can hear Stephen Thompson ask “Robin, you like this?” to much laughter.
He says he finished an hour long session at Sirius XM. He was completely by himself and he was really comfortable. But playing music in front of people makes him nervous—you’d think he had it down by now. But he tells us “if you’ve never done it before as weird as you imagine it being… it’s that weird.”
The final song is a request for Grandaddy’s “Jed the Humanoid” and that’s when I realized why he sounds different. He sings slightly more falsetto in Granddaddy than on the solo songs. It’s very subtle, but I can hear it. The original of this song is very synthy, so hearing it on acoustic guitar (with the lyrics very clear) really changes the feel of the song.
After a verse, he turns a knob on the keyboard and this weird frog-like sound bubbles under the song (similar to the one on the record, which is neat).
And as he leaves the Desk, you can hear Robin say “the saddest song in the world.”
[READ: July 20, 2016] “Samsa in Love”
Basing a story on another story can be risky, especially when the story you base yours on is incredibly famous with a first line that many people can quote without looking.
But Murakami does something very interesting with Gregor Samsa in this story. “He woke to discover that he had undergone a metamorphosis and become Gregor Samsa.” We don’t know who or what “he” was before this and neither does he. He’s not even sure exactly what he is–but he knows his name.
The first few paragraphs are all about him getting used to even being human–scoffing at his body, wondering why he was so cold and what that gnawing pain was in his stomach–hunger, it turns out. He spends several paragraphs just trying to learn how to walk on two legs. It’s all somewhat comical although not exactly funny.
Finally he gets downstairs–the table has been set for a meal but no one is there. Everything is still warm and yet the house appears empty. No matter, he tucks into the food wand eats everything. Then he sets about trying to cover himself. He looks out the window and sees everyone dressed, but he’s not willing to even attempt to put clothes on so he grabs a dressing gown and slips into that.
And then there’s a ring of the doorbell. A hunchbacked woman stands at the door and asks if this is the Samsa residence. Since he knows his name, he says yes. She is a locksmith here to fix a broken lock. But he doesn’t know what room it is.
She is snarky and kind of crabby with him, but she seems to sense a kindness and maybe a simpleness about him and she lightens up a bit.
He takes her up to the room he woke up in and, indeed, that is the room with the lock problems.
And here’s what I love about this story. Samsa’s room is boarded up–it is sparsely furnished, almost like a cell while all the other rooms are beautiful. And the lock was destroyed deliberately. While the locksmith looks at the mechanism, she starts talking about what’s going on outside—tanks and soldiers and the terrible upheaval. Obviously Gregor knows nothing of this and nether do we.
While she is working, he admires her and he gets an erection–not knowing what it is or why it’s happening. She notices and assumes he is mocking her but again, she takes him for simpleminded, which he sort of is.
He invites her back. She says she has to come back with the lock. And with all the upheaval, who knows what will happen.
There’s a lot of existential questioning going on which makes the story extra fun. But there is so much left unanswered. It fees like you could make a whole novel about this, but I think he was very smart cropping it where he did.