It may help to know that I've barely a shred of musical training, consequently embracing an almost mystical approach to listening. It's all about mood and feel -- what grips me in ways I can't explain. This is the ideal. Lyrically, I'm notorious for not listening to the words at all; there are songs I've been hearing for 40 years that would stump me if asked to recite them.
I already knew of Elbow. It is an uncommonly literate and thoughtful musical group of the sort that transcends easy categorization, and isn't always easily grasped on the first listen. The new album arrived about three weeks ago, and it did not make an immediate impression. However, and perhaps significantly, there were enough smaller, nuanced pleasures to compel repeated playings.
In particular, there was the album's opener, "This Blue World." The music itself seemed melodically sparse at first, until the elegant, subtle hooks began emerging from the orchestration. The whole notion about "tears of joy" -- it never really made sense to me, and yet I'd listen to this song and feel them welling up. The song was beginning to exercise its hold.
Then, on about the sixth or seventh listening, it finally was time to read the lyrics. I was, and remain, flabbergasted. The words don't speak to me in any specific, personal way. They're just extremely moving, in a universal, timeless sense, as though to suggest that no matter where we are today, we remain a composite of everything that came before.
There isn't enough beauty in this world, but a song like this gives me hope -- in art, achievement, possibilities and redemption.
"This Blue World"
This blue world and her countless sisters
And all that came before that day
Our atoms straining to align
Was the universe in rehearsal for us
When all the world is sucking on its sleeve
You'll hear an urgent morse in the gentle rain
And if you plot your course on the window pane
You'll see the coldest star in the arms of the oldest tree
And you'll know to come to me
In the back of a broken car
When the blizzard blossom flew
Reading aloud with our fingers
What we both already knew
And the blizzard blossom flew
A sober midnight wish
Flies over the roofs and down through the years
Would that you and yours are sleeping
Safe and warm in size formation
While three chambers of my heart beat true and strong with love for another
The fourth is yours forever