Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Song of the week: Regina Spektor's "Two Birds"

Ok, so I stopped doing this because of Christmas, then because of New Year's, and then I just got busy and stopped writing altogether, but now I'm back at it. I'm gonna start putting the video up top so that maybe you can listen to the song while I talk about it.

Regina Spektor is one of the most interesting artists around these days. Her incredibly powerful and yet delicately nimble voice coupled with her piano skills and effortless quirkiness make her at the very least interesting to listen to. On her last studio album, Far, she wrote about a wide range of topics, from people's belief in God depending on their place in life, to the color blue, and a song called "Dance Anthem of the 80's" as well. But the one that has really stayed in my memory is the possible love song "Two Birds".

Now, because of the way Spektor writes the lyrics, you could take the song as a triumph of love, or being about fear and lack of change.:

Two birds on a wire
One tries to fly away, and the other
watches him close from that wire
He says he wants to as well
But he is a liar

Here's she's setting up our characters and their situation. I'll call them the male and female, I get the feeling that the male bird is afraid to leave the comfort of the wire for the possibility of something new, i.e. whatever the female bird leads him to once they leave. He says he wants to leave, but is giving her some reason as to why he won't. She thinks he's lying, and in the next part she reassures him:

I'll believe it all
There's nothing I won't understand

I'll believe it all
I won't let go of your hand

This is the part that really touches me. I think this is what love is all about. She's telling him that whatever his reason is for not leaving the wire, she won't judge him, she'll support him, she'll still be there for him emotionally and physically. She won't even let go of his hand, even after he's taken that initial leap off of the wire.

Two birds on a wire
One says c'mon and the other says "I'm tired"
The sky is overcast and I'm sorry
One more or one less
Nobody's worried

So he's just making more excuses, but she's not giving up...

I'll believe it all
There's nothing I won't understand

I'll believe it all
I won't let go of your hand

"You're safe with me, no matter what. Please take this journey with me." is what she's trying to get him to understand. It could be a metaphor for the journey of marriage, or it could simply be a physical journey off of the wire.

Two birds of a feather
Say that they're always gonna stay together
But one's never going to let go of that wire
He says that he will
But he's just a liar

Two birds on a wire
One tries to fly away and the other
Watches him close from that wire
He says he wants to as well, but he is a liar

So she's continuing to try and get him off that wire, but he hasn't budged yet.

Two birds on a wire
Once tries to fly away and the other...

Now, one could easily take Spektor's ending the song this way to be a kind of sadness that he never will get off that wire and she doesn't even need to finish that refrain. But for a hopeful romantic like myself, I think she doesn't finish that line because just as she thinks he's not going to get off that wire and she's lamenting the fact again, he jumps. I would definitely understand an opposite interpretation to mine, since it's left deliberately ambiguous, but that's my take on it.

It's a brilliant song, of which Spektor has a few, and one I can listen to over and over again. I love the way she builds and builds and then has the release type moments back into the near silence. She plays with dynamics in a wonderfully fascinating way. I wish more artists put that kind of work and thought and care into their music. I guess that's why she's one of the bright lights out there in the music world.

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