Day 16 – a Song that Reminds You of a Certain Place
Almost exactly one year ago, I went to Ottawa for a week for an immersive law program. On my five hour flight I got bored with the music I had been listening to as of late, which wasn’t necessarily bad but had been so overplayed in my life recently that I wanted nothing more to do with it for at least a month.
So I scrolled through my ipod looking for something that I hadn’t yet listened to but had always been intending to. I stopped scrolling at Said the Whale and considered them for a moment.
Over the last year I had listened to their latest album, Little Mountain, several times and although I enjoyed it I didn’t love it and had never considered listening to the rest of their music. I had everything – but I had never listened to it. I decided to give it a go, and I still consider it one of the best decisions I ever made.
I listened to them that entire week I was there. I didn’t even consider hearing anything else as though I only had time for this one band whose existence I had hardly even considered beforehand. It’s always risky to start with a new album and work your way back through older ones, but in the case of Said the Whale the further back you go the better it gets. Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia was raw and a little pitchy in places but had such classics as Live Off Lamb and The Light is You (which is to this day one of my favourite love songs and sometimes I wonder what it would be like for someone to sing it to me or allow me to sing it to them) and Curse of the Currents (which is sad and utterly depressing and if I’m in the right mood can make me cry). Islands Disappear! What am I to make of it? Every. Single. Song. is beautiful and perfectly performed and some make me cry and all make me smile like a lunatic. And then there are their random EPs, such as Bear Bones (on which they released Strong Swimmers as an mp3 for the first time ever and for which I am eternally grateful) and all of their West Coast Christmas EPs (from 2007 to 2011 they released at least one and up to three Christmas songs a year and all are wonderful and a little quirky and they make fun of Christmas in Vancouver and the lack of snow and how it’s just rainy and gross all the time, just like the rest of the year and most of these songs can make me laugh).
So I listened to these songs all week, as I was being bussed to and fro around Ottawa and to the Parliament Buildings and Supreme Court and everywhere in between. Every single song of theirs reminds me of Ottawa, but there’s one in particular that I remember listening to as I walked out of the Museum of Civilization and watched the clouds making shapes over the river and felt the chill in the air. And here it is (pay attention to where you are and what you’re doing as you listen!)