Friday, April 18, 2008

The Choice of a Word

I trust Kayley's musical tastes (Sufjan Stevens, Decemberists, Architecture in Helsinki, Beirut) and in order to whet my appetite for new music, I turned my ears to Andrew Bird. I have to admit, this was also partly due to the fact that he's adorably hot, as seen in this video, also sent to me by Kayley. And, hey, he sang with Wilco during their 5-night residency at Chicago's Riveria Theater in February.

Andrew Bird (you gotta use his entire name) reminds me of Sufjan Stevens, but not as light, if that makes sense. Anyway, that isn't the pointof this entry.

Looking through the New York Times' website, as I tend to do, I noticed Andrew Bird's name and I clicked the link. That led me to one of the Times' new blogs: Measure for Measure, of which Andrew Bird is a writer for, along with Suzanne Vega, Roseanne Cash and Darell Brown.

In the first entry, Bird begins by talking about his upcoming drive to a studio in Nashville (three days after Josh and I got back from Tennessee) and the aspects of driving vs. taking a tour bus. From there, he goes to various tangents, all of which involve his musicality.

What I'm interested in is his choice of words, or as he titles the entry, "Words Will Tell." He comes up with his melodies first, which is easy for him, but lyrics are trickier. He does it anyway, because he has to.

During his everyday living, specific moments/words/noises/ideas catch his eye, which is how I write, in terms of poetry. In the process of writing "Oh No," a song to be featured on his upcoming album, he came up with the title because of a kid crying on his airplane.

After the title, Andrew Bird goes on to explain his lyric-writing process. He throws in childhood locations (Lake Bluff) and childhood thoughts (a bridge that, to him, marked the end of the world because that vicinity was all he knew then). Strung together, it sounds lovely.

It's just as simple as that. A certain phrase catches your ear and you think to yourself, "That sounds mighty nice/poetic/beautiful," and it becomes stuck in your head until you write it down. From there, you either save it for another moment or continue to play off that moment.

Or, as Andrew puts it:

"Words get under my skin the same way melodies do. Something catches my attention and I file it subconsciously. It often begins with an archaic or obscure word I have not defined. I just like the sound of it and its elusive meaning gives it a mysterious shine."

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