It has now long since rebranded and changed formats but around the beginning of the 2010s, back when I still had a cable television package with Rogers*, I discovered a channel that played music videos for a good portion of its programming. Yes, I know I’ve told this story before, but it’s been a couple of minutes (okay, perhaps more than a year) since I’ve referenced this relatively short fling of mine with AUX TV. And the story bears repetition given the amount of songs and artists it availed me. Much like Miike Snow’s “The wave”, which came in at number twenty three on this list, it was the music video that caught my eye first, but it didn’t take long for the love of the tune to follow.
The video starts with a dead parent addressing his three adult children in one of those message from beyond the grave type video recordings and knowing that each “hated his guts”, he tells them that he didn’t bequeath the familial home to any of them. Instead, he tells them, the deed is hidden within the home and whoever finds it, gets everything. A chaotic, rough and tumble, and often hilarious treasure hunt ensues, interspersed with VHS home video type clips showing a dysfunctional family history. When the “deed” is finally found and after a bit of hair pulling and choking, it is read and discovered to be a joke, that the house is instead scheduled for demolition that very afternoon. A charming video is made more so by the fact that the principal characters in the video are played by members of The Shins, including a titular performance by frontman James Mercer as the dead father.
I didn’t know anything of this last fact the first time I saw the video, of course, and save for recognizing Mercer and his inimitable vocals, I might not have placed this song as by the same band that played the song that “will change your life”, featured on the “Garden State” film soundtrack. And this is because for the most part, it wasn’t. The Shins hadn’t released any new material for five years up to this point and when Mercer
resurfaced with “Port of morrow”, it was with a completely new band.
“Simple song” was the first single released off this new album and it was anything but a simple song. Starting with haunting organs and ghostly guitars wavering in the attic cobwebs and banging around in the walls, it quickly becomes jubilant and upbeat and hopeful. Mercer wrote it in the comforts of his home, shortly after his marriage and birth of this first child and he was reflecting on everything to come.
“Well this will be a simple song
To say what you’ve done
I told you about all those years
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean
Being warmed by the sun”
“Simple song” dances and frolics in pure happiness and I swear if you don’t have a smile on your own face by the end, one might surmise that you don’t have a soul.
*Remember cable television?
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.
4 replies on “Best tunes of 2012: #8 The Shins “Simple song””
Cool – I know the first two records pretty well, but need to hang with the later ones.
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I really enjoyed those first three Shins album. I got Port of Morrow on release with Simple Song as a ‘free’ 7″ which has probably had more plays than the album itself since, cracking tune
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