"If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it's real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we're using, that word is real."
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
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?
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.
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 something 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...