Sunday, May 2, 2010

Born from the magical mystery tour

The made for TV movie of Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour briefly features The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, a group I very much enjoyed when I was a teenager, performing the song "Death Cab for Cutie" (credit for that title, correctly or not, has sometimes been attributed to Ringo).

Fast forward about 30 years as a new band named Death Cab for Cutie forms in the early 1990s at the University of Washington. Stylistically, one can hear influences from The Beatles and other groups from the late 1960s through mid-1970s.

All of the songs for DCFC's 2008 release Narrow Stairs were written by Ben Gibbard in the same cabin where Jack Kerouac wrote Big Sur. The songs are thoughtfully poignant and heartfelt. Many of the songs, while dark, are hauntingly beautiful. A sample follows:

How I wish you could see the potential
The potential of you and me
It's like a book elegantly bound
But in a language you can't read just yet
from I Will Posses Your Heart, Narrow Stairs

The video to the song quoted above follows. While it runs for over 8 minutes I find the time to be well spent. Listen to the long crescendo as the song builds -- this goes on for the first four minutes and forty seconds -- paying careful attention to how the band slowly adds different instrumental sounds and tonal colors to the build-up.

Since Narrow Stairs, DCFC has released an EP (a short album) of songs that were not included on Narrow Stairs. I'm looking forward to their next release to see what they come up with next.

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