Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Acquiring Tastes

It's interesting sometimes to watch your perception of something change. For instance, I've been listening to a lot of They Might Be Giants songs this last week or two, and I've noticed that I like a lot more of them now than I did when I first heard them. With one song in particular, I happened to notice all the stages involved in this change. The first time I heard Ana Ng I don't think I liked it much at all. I just left it on the CD while I copied a bunch of others into iTunes (which is where I listen to most of my music). Then the other day I heard it again and just didn't particularly notice it one way or the other. But the next morning, I woke up with that melody buzzing through my mind.

I always have a first tune of the day. It's usually instantaneous -- I flip the alarm off and right away there's music in my head. Sometimes that tune sticks for the whole day, sometimes it only lasts through my shower, and then gets replaced by something else.

So anyway, there it is, stuck in my head. It takes me a little while to figure out what it is, since I still didn't have any words for it, but when I did I was a bit surprised, since I hadn't thought I'd liked it. So I went and found the song and listened to it a few more times and decided it was pretty good after all. Still had no clue what it was about. I'm horrible at following lyrics in songs. So I looked them up online. Here's the beginning:
Make a hole with a gun perpendicular
To the name of this town in a desktop globe
Exit wound in a foreign nation
Showing the home of the one this was written for

My apartment looks upside down from there
Water spirals the wrong way out the sink
And her voice is a backwards record
It's like a whirlpool, and it never ends

Ana Ng and I are getting old
and we still haven't walked in the glow
of each other's majestic presence
I really like the imagery used here. It says a lot about how we relate to people who are different from us. It has both perspectives in it: his apartment looks upside down, but her voice seems backwards. The gun imagery is a good metaphor for how we hurt ourselves by hurting other people. But the underlying assumption is that each person is a "majestic presence" in their own right, regardless of differences. Well written.

It's even better with music, of course. My favorite thing about the music is how the rhythm of the drum and electric guitar alternately match and complement the rhythm of the lyrics. That flat-III chord in the chorus is pretty cool, too.

So anyway, the upshot of all that is: I like the song now.

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