The Shins – “Goodbye Girl”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011  7:18 PM

Okay, I don’t think of myself as a huge fan of The Shins.  But maybe I should.  I’ve owned all 3 of their albums at one time.  I lost #2 somewhere, which was the first one I bought.  I think James Mercer is one of the more interesting songwriters around these days.  I think he has a cool delivery.  I don’t always understand his songs but I think that makes me like them more.  And The Shins (as well as Broken Bells) have a good ear for melody.  They always feel like an indie band who are coming from just the right place.  They kind of remind me of The Beach Boys but I don’t know if they have quite as many harmonies.

This song is a cover that was originally done by a band called Squeeze, who I’m not familiar with.  I was made aware of it from an article on Pitchfork (or somewhere) that linked to a Levi’s jeans website where you could download it for free.  I thought the recording was cool.  It seemed casually yet well recorded and I liked the way it built up at the beginning.

I don’t understand all the words to this song and I’ve thought very little about what it means.  I think it’s the feel I get from the music that sucks me in.  Maybe it’s the attitude that I like.

I put this song on my ipod when I downloaded it and when I hear it these days it reminds me of one time when I went to visit my sister in Junction, Texas.  I went for a run one night as the sun was setting and the town is so small I was able to run from one side to the other.  I had my ipod on shuffle so it was just playing through whatever.  I think this song came on around the time I was running over a bridge that went over a river.  I don’t know what river it is.  I just thought the song was so cool.  I think I started it over about 3 times.

Sometimes I think I like this song just because it came at a time when I wasn’t sure if The Shins were still a band or not.  It was after Wincing the Night Away but before Broken Bells.  This was just a one off thing but from what I heard the band sounded really good.  So maybe I was feeling hopeful when I originally heard it and that helped me like it more.  I don’t know.

That’s something I’m curious about.  I think it’s interesting to think of why certain songs end up as your favorites.  It can be for the dumbest and most random reasons.  I know as a songwriter I often feel powerless in a way because the best an artist can do is just to write or play a song the best they can.  You never know after that what will happen.  Someone might hear one of your songs playing in a friend’s car and decide they like it, or maybe they hear it one day when their mood is just not quite lining up to the song and for whatever reason it just bothers them every time they hear it.  Or maybe the timing is off.  Or maybe what you wrote is a good song but the only time some listeners pay attention to music is when it’s on Grey’s Anatomy or something.

Funny to think about that since most people who like The Shins now probably never heard them before they were featured so glowingly on the movie Garden State.  I know that was the first time I heard of them.  And having Natalie Portman talking about how great a band is is probably never a bad thing for business.

When I think about it I’m not sure if this is my favorite song by The Shins.  I think I chose it like I chose the Jeff Tweedy song earlier, it stands alone nicely.  And I’m not even sure which one of their albums I like more.  I play #3 the most but I remember really enjoying #2 when I had it.  And #1 is a great little indie record.

I’ll have to get back to you on this.

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