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posted on 06.07.09


Above: Larry Fink, Pat Sabatine's Eighth Birthday Party, Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania.  1977. Gelatin Silver Print.


For me, the most beautiful pieces of art, are the moments captured that would otherwise remain unseen. From the expression on the woman in Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère to the Gestures in Larry Fink's Social Graces. It is the unexpected found in the everyday, watching life in slow-motion.  But it isn't always something visual, a photograph, or painting; as a collector of words, I am always listening for these moments to find my ear, tangled with notes falling on even lines.  Here are a few of my favorites, lyrics that capture the images of life through language.

Death Cab For Cutie

It's like a book elegantly bound

But in a language that you can't read just yet

-I will posses your heart, Narrow Stairs


Writing about love can be hard, and many times, an attempt falls short.  It is something that almost everyone can understand in some form or another, but it's hard to relay that experience without sounding cliche or (gasp) cheesy.  Even describing the absence of love can be a daunting task.  These two lines, however, create a perfect understanding of an emotion that's hard to put words to.  


The Arcade Fire

The red lights mean you’re leaving 

The white one’s mean returning 

Tell me how this story ends 

And I’ll keep them fires burning 


The headlights look like diamonds 

The taillights burn like coals 

Tell me how this story ends 

Before the fires go cold

-Headlights look like diamonds, EP


All I can picture is someone standing in a dirt driveway, watching someone leave.  I wouldn't expect a description of car lights to do something for me but I love the moments created here, the description of excitement and anticipation along with loss and sadness .


Iron & Wine

Please, remember me


By the rosebush laughing

With bruises on my chin

The time when

We counted every black car passing

Your house beneath the hill and up until

Someone caught us in the kitchen

With maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank

A vision too removed to mention

-The Trapeze Swinger, Single


The images that really catch me here are: laughing by the rosebush with bruises on my chin and being caught in the kitchen with maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank...  They are little pieces of childhood that we try to hold onto.  


Minus The Bear

Midnight on a beach in the mediterranean

And I miss you

Even here, taking it all in

The sand's silver carries the moon on its shoulders

Is it possible to put this night to tune and give it to you?

-Pachuca  Sunrise, Menos el Oso


I have to admit that these lyrics hold a bit of sentimental value and so probably landed my list for just that fact alone, however, I do feel that this song and its description of a beach at night is eloquent and perfect, and in the last line shown, illustrates what we all try to attempt, whether we're putting a moment together with words or images.  


Death Cab For Cutie

And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time.

-What Sarah Said, Plans


So, I can't help but finishing my list with Death Cab, it only seems fit; as they can describe both the beginning and the end with perfect clarity.  It is probably one of the saddest songs I've listened too, while being one of the most beautiful at the same time.  Every line of this song could go into my list, but I chose the first because as I read and re-read these lyrics, it's one that tugs at me in a different way than the rest, because it describes, so simply, what it is to be human, to be mortal.  


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Death Cab For Cutie


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