Andrew Bird

What Happened to Fiery Romance?

Andrew Bird Live at the Guthrie Theatre 2008


by Andrew Bird

Why? Why’d you do that
You shouldn’t have done that
If I told you once I told you three times
You’ll get your punishments when you show me your crimes
It’s not a spell or a curse you put on me
Or the way you make me smile so tenderly
But how I wish it was your temper you were throwing
Damn you for being so easygoing

I thought that time would tell
My sins would provoke you to raise some hell
Not a chance
Whatever happened to fiery romance
Oh how I wish it was those dishes you were throwing
Damn you for being so easygoing

No, don’t give that line
Don’t try to tell me that inaction is not a crime
Can’t you see what kind of seeds you’re sowing?
Damn you for being so easygoing



Music by Andrew Bird featuring Dianogah, from the Daytrotter Session. The video is an adaptation of Lisa Barcy’s stop-motion animated film, Mermaid.

Being alone, it can be quite romantic
Like Jacques Cousteau underneath the Atlantic
A fantastic voyage to parts unknown
Going to depths where the sun's never shone
And I fascinate myself when I'm alone

So I go a little overboard, but hang on to the hull
While I'm airbrushing fantasy art on a life
That's really kind of dull
Oh, I'm in a lull

I'm all for moderation, but sometimes it seems
Moderation itself can be a kind of extreme
So I joined the congregation
I joined the softball team
I went in for my confirmation
Where incense looks like steam
I start conjugating proverbs
Where once there were nouns
This whole damn rhyme scheme's
Starting to get me down

Oh, I'm in a lull
I'm in a lull

Being alone, it can be quite romantic
Like Jacques Cousteau underneath the Atlantic
A fantastic voyage to parts unknown
Going to depths where the sun's never shone
And I fascinate myself, sure I do
When I'm alone

I'm rambling on rather self-consciously
While I'm stirring these condiments into my tea
And I think I'm so lame, I bet I think this song’s about me
Don't I, don't I, don't I?

I'm in a lull...


Constantly Whistling

From “Andrew Bird Discovers His Inner Operatic Folkie,” by Jonathan Mahler, New York Times Sunday Magazine (1.02.09):

Compositionally, Bird takes simple melodies and gradually extends them into complex arrangements. These melodies pop into his head unannounced. The way it usually works, he will suddenly find himself whistling a new one — Bird is constantly whistling — or even chewing his food to it. He never records melodies or even writes them down. He assumes that if they’re worth remembering, he’ll remember them. The longer they remain lodged in his head, the more likely it is that they will eventually be fashioned into a song. “It’s like I’m my own Top 40 radio station, playing the things that get under my skin,” Bird says. “The ones that really stick are the hits.”

Andrew Bird performing 'Oh No' in Cincinnati, April 5, 2008.


His new CD, Noble Beast, drops Tuesday. Listen to Useless Creatures, the collection of new instrumental works that is included with the deluxe edition.


Words are Much Trickier

Excerpt from Andrew Bird's essay "Words Will Tell" posted on the New York Times music blog Measure for Measure:

Almost every breath contains some fragments of an escaping melody. If I shape my lips so as to whistle, my breath will take on a musical shape like sonic vapor. Words are much trickier. I would forgo words altogether if I didn’t love singing them so much. My choice of words and my voice betray so much and that’s what’s so terrifying and attractive about it.

I’m not the most forthcoming person — I only speak when I have Armchair Apocryphasomething to say. What is becoming more challenging of late is dealing with so many fully formed melodies that are unwilling to change their shape for any word. So writing lyrics becomes like running multiple code-breaking programs in your head until just the right word with just the right number of syllables, tone of vowel and finally some semblance of meaning all snap into place.

I’m kind of the opposite of the confessional singer-songwriter who fills notebooks full of poetry and intones them over a bed of chords. Meaning or “the truth that’s in my heart” usually reveals itself well after the record is released. I’m often surprised that the things I care about actually end up in my songs. Until then I’m mostly concerned with shape, tone and texture. I’m really an instrumentalist who sings words...