Scene’s Selections: Songs about fall
It’s that time of year again — the ethereal season when both the leaves and your grades descend gracefully from their respective perches down to earth. Our writers supply dulcet tones to cushion the fall.
“Falling” by Julee Cruise — Matthew Munhall
“Falling” — written by filmmaker David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti — is best known in instrumental form, scoring the title sequence of “Twin Peaks.” The song’s twangy Duane Eddy guitar riff and haunting keyboard chords lull you into the dream world of “Twin Peaks,” somewhere between sleeping and waking. Toward the end of the the pilot, Julee Cruise performs this dreamy love song at the Roadhouse for an audience of bikers clad in leather jackets (“See,” Lynch once explained, “the idea was that the bikers in Twin Peaks were the intellectuals — the beatniks.”). Cruise’s ethereal vocals suggests a romantic vision of love, but upon closer inspection — like most things in “Twin Peaks” — something dark lurks just beneath the surface.
Cruise’s narrator begins by issuing a warning to herself: “Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.” This advice is quickly thrown out the window, however, when she begins a new relationship. Cruise sings at a glacial pace, elongating each syllable as if speaking in a dream: “The sky is still blue / The clouds come and go / Yet something is different / Are we falling in love?” It’s a question, rather than a statement — her narrator falling from dizzying heights like the cascading waterfall in the title sequence.
“At the Bottom of Everything” by Bright Eyes — Charlie Kenney
“At the Bottom of Everything,” which focuses on a plane plunging into the Pacific Ocean, is a song that is unapologetically about falling, pursuing the topic with a greater magnitude than typical.
The song, featured on the band’s 2005 album, “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” is divided into two parts: a narration of a woman’s awkward encounter on an airplane and a flirtation with anarchy and communism as the plane descends toward death. It’s a song that focuses on how meaningless we become in death — a rather somber topic for how upbeat the song seems.
During the more musical part of the song, vocalist Conor Oberst belts out multiple different lyrics attacking individuality. He sings, “We must blend into a choir / Sing a static with the whole / We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul,” emphasizing how meaningless we are in life and death, regardless of how important we think we are.
The song, mostly a monotonous conversation, doesn’t try to accomplish much, but it does so nonetheless. Oberst packs every lyric and word with a message — something that he does incredibly effectively.
“Faberge Falls for Shuggie” by of Montreal — Adrian Mark Lore
“Faberge Falls for Shuggie” — taken from “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?” (2007) — is Kevin Barnes’ second track performing as glam-rock alter ego Georgie Fruit, born halfway through the record’s cathartic centerpiece, “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal.” Naturally, the track’s thick funk and Barnes’ soulful, sassy harmonizing emerges in stark contrast to the glazed synths and self-deprecating lyricism of the record’s first half. Certainly, it’s hard to tell whether “clinical depression on ecstasy” is the positive conclusion for which we’d hoped following Barnes’ transformative emotional collapse.
But musically, at least, there’s nothing quite like Barnes’ falsetto spitting evocative, sexually charged lyricism (“Be careful how you touch me / My body is an earthquake / Ready to receive you”) backed by the track’s luscious synth refrain: It’s as though The Beach Boys and The Isley Brothers teamed up to produce the soundtrack of a pornographic film. Besides, the track’s eclecticism also foreshadows the band’s shift into the scatterbrained pop-music collages of “Skeletal Lamping” (2008), “False Priest” (2010) and “thecontrollersphere” (2011) — all three of which, by the way, he name-drops on “Faberge Falls for Shuggie,” years in advance. That alone is pretty legendary, if you ask me.
“Falling” by Haim — Adam Ramos
On “Days are Gone,” the debut album from Los Angeles family-band trio Haim, the band brought its endlessly fun brand of R&B-oriented pop-rock to the masses. With their slick, sun-drenched California aesthetic, the three Haim sisters proved the legitimacy of a dying genre thanks in big part to their inventive guitar hooks, danceable choruses and impeccable production. From start to finish, “Days are Gone” is a thrill; each track on the work explores a unique facet of the interaction between rock and pop.
Interestingly enough, the album’s opener, “Falling,” showcases the band’s more pensive side. The very first sound on the song is a bass drum, echoing the cadence of a nervous heartbeat. Quickly, Danielle Haim’s vocals, along with a subtly intricate guitar progression, breaks the building anxiety. When the refrain kicks in, the sisters boast, “Into the fire feeling higher than the truth (I’m falling) / I can feel the heat but I’m not burning (but now I’m falling).” Sometimes falling can be advantageous, even if one falls, like the sisters describe, into a flaming pit. Letting the universe takeover can be liberating. If you have the chops to make an album as wonderful as “Days are Gone,” why not let things fall where they may?
“We Will Fall” by The Stooges — Mike Donovan
I trip on a sneakily placed decorative gourd, and time races as I embark on an extended roll down a gorgeous hillside. Witnesses register my rapid yelps — “Oh! Gee! Ruh! Ugh! Rah! Reh! Huh?” — but they do not (and should not) assign meaning to the noise.
The Stooges experience a similar tumble — presumably due to accuracy and timing of John Cale’s strategic gourd placement — and time slows to an eerie crawl. Scott Asheton and Dave Alexander somersault as one, the former’s sharp yelps highlighting the drone of the latter’s back rolls. Ron Asheton sprouts wings and takes flight, humming like an eagle as he observes his brethren. Iggy Pop, of course, completely transcends the notion of temporal continuity. Suspended in space and time, he floats, emanating the spiritual essence of rock n’ roll (which, apparently, is quite suggestive). “I’ll be shakin’, I’ll be tremblin’, I’ll be happy, I’ll be weak / And I love you, and I’ll love you and we’ll fall to sleep,” he telepathically chants.
Precisely 10 minutes and 18 seconds later, the entire band materializes at the base of the hill, arm in arm. Cale, still at the summit, looks down with a smirk. “We will fall,” he thinks.