This Tiny Desk Concert (they say it’s number 250, but I count 251) is just him and his acoustic guitar. I didn’t know he did solo work, but apparently he does (in addition to being in The Postal Service and All-Time Quarterback).
Gibbard just released a solo album, Former Lives, which he’s said is a repository for material that didn’t work as Death Cab for Cutie songs; from that record, only “Teardrop Windows” pops up in his Tiny Desk Concert. For the rest, he draws from Death Cab’s most recent album (“St. Peter’s Cathedral,” from Codes and Keys) and, of all places, last year’s Arthur soundtrack (“When the Sun Goes Down on Your Street”).
As mentioned he plays three songs and his voice is so warm and familiar I felt like I knew these songs even if I didn’t.
I knew “St. Peter’s Cathedral.” It is a lovely song with very little in the way of chord changes. But the melody is gentle and pretty. And the song appears to be entirely about this church. Which is interesting because the second song is also about a building in Seattle. “Teardrop Windows” is a surprisingly sad song about an inanimate object. It’s written from the building’s point of view as he mourns that no one uses him anymore. And such beautiful lyrics too:
Once built in boast as the tallest on the coast he was once the city’s only toast / In old postcards was positioned as the star, he was looked up to with fond regard / But in 1962 the Needle made its big debut and everybody forgot what it outgrew
The final song “When the Sun Goes Down on Your Street” was indeed for the Russel Brand movie Arthur. Somehow I can’t picture those two together. It’s a lovely song, too.
I prefer Gibbard’s more upbeat and fleshed out music, but it’s great to hear him stripped down as well.
[READ: January 2017] “My Writing Education: A Time Line,” “The Bravery of E.L. Doctorow,” “Remembering Updike,” and “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz”
I had been planning to have my entire month of February dedicated to children’s books. I have a whole bunch that I read last year and never had an opportunity to post them. So I thought why not make February all about children’s books. But there is just too much bullshit going on in our country right now–so much hatred and ugliness–that I felt like I had to get this post full of good vibes out there before I fall completely into bad feelings myself. It;s important to show that adults can be kind and loving, despite what our leaders demonstrate. Fortunately most children’s books are all about that too, so the them holds for February.
George Saunders is a wonderful writer, but he is also a very kind human being. Despite his oftentimes funny, sarcastic humor, he is a great humanitarian and is always very generous with praise where it is warranted.
The other day I mentioned an interview with Saunders at the New York Times. Amid a lot of talk with and about Saunders, there is this gem:
Junot Díaz described the Saunders’s effect to me this way: “There’s no one who has a better eye for the absurd and dehumanizing parameters of our current culture of capital. But then the other side is how the cool rigor of his fiction is counterbalanced by this enormous compassion. Just how capacious his moral vision is sometimes gets lost, because few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”
These first three pieces are all examples of his love and respect for other writers–both for their skill and for their generosity.
“My Writing Education: A Time Line”
“My Writing Education” comes from a book called A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors. Saunders’ mentor was Tobias Wolff. And for this essay, his admiration takes the form of a diary. (more…)