Calm Down, Please, Just Calm Down//do you care enough?

Unique post.

I believe Animal Collective's song 'Doggy' to be one of the single most heart-wrenching pieces of music created in the 21st century. I challenge you to tell me differently.
If you've ever fallen in love with your pet, you will understand.
If you've ever lost a pet, you will understand.

One of the best things about this song is Avey Tare's lyrics, which you can find here, written from the oft-forgotten perspective of childhood. If you have the time, try reading these along with the music in each version of 'Doggy' I post. All three versions convey different feelings, ranging from sorrow, acceptance, to happy remembrance, but the soul of the song remains unchanged by its lyric's innocent magnificence.

Doggy (off of 'Campfire Songs,' 2001)
The first recorded incarnation of this song was performed on a porch in Maryland by members Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Deakin; soundscape put together by Geologist. Emotive in its simplicity, the original 'Doggy' track travels across bounces into sublime shimmers and delicate strums, then exploding into a strange chorus of harmonies that gives chills for its effectiveness.

Sleeper Factory/Doggy (from BBC Radio 1 Breezeblock Session, 2004)
One of the best versions available of both 'Sleeper Factory,' a b-side with as much beauty and charm as any released song from the group, and 'Doggy,' segued into with an off-handed grace Animal Collective wield at every live show (and one of the best reasons to see this band live; their set usually has only three pauses for applause, otherwise all their songs flow one into the next in new ways each night). The best chance to hear clearly the lyrics, though the bridge melodies in this session aren't achieved as well as in the original.

Doggy/Hey Light (from another BBC Radio Session, in 2007)
An updated take on 'Doggy,' with added percussion and effects that exactly demonstrates how Animal Collective's sound has grown from the dawn of this decade. My personal favorite version. Also, another AC-styled segue, this time into 'Hey Light,' a work from Here Comes The Indian (2003). Certainly a taste of how AC's 2007-08 tours have sounded. Just less loud.

Personal anecdote none of you may care about (if so, then just download, listen, and forget all about me): I had heard the Campfire Songs version of Doggy first, but never got into it. Then I heard this version, and my obsessive love for this song and everything about it began. Ironically, since I connected with this live jam more than the acoustic melancholy off Songs, I thought 'Doggy' was joyous as a celebration of pets past loved and soon to be found, but certainly not depressing. The beat was too dance-worthy, the harmonies too Beach Boys-esque. But therein lies the charm of 'Doggy:' the woe of a dog's death, the stubborn reluctance to accept this loss, and the eventual grin that decorates your face as you remember the delight shared between you and your doggy when you lived together are all expressed in one song, but each facet is demonstrated differently depending on how the band decides to perform it. And so after dancing around my room for the umpteenth time to the last version, I decided to finally read the lyrics - and my heart sank. I listened to the jam again, and this time sat down, my head in my hands, reeling from my own past struggle to cope with the vicious theft of my best friend by the perverted hands of a debilitating cancer. As the memories of one year past broke free from their hidden cage in the back of my mind, I forgot about the uplifting percussion, the sunny day harmonies, and the only lyrics I had picked up on before:

"Such a sweet doggy."

The words burst from my speakers and collided with the thought of that very day I handed over my "doggy" to a death dealer, those curious demons who hide evil behind diplomas and prescriptions, apathy behind sweet talk and behind-the-ear scratches, and I took in the full meaning of AC's 'Doggy.' It was over-powering. I then immediately played the original version, and was subsequently floored again. How could I have missed this? I scolded myself for my pathetic listening skills. I then rushed to gather every version of the song available in a mad dash to absorb the track completely, in all its flavors. I knew I had found something special when even the shittiest live recordings, done from some thirteen year old's cell phone, managed to punch me in the throat. For a while, I couldn't listen anymore. It was getting too difficult to hear a stranger lament over a tragedy I felt too in common. I certainly couldn't listen to it in front of other people; what used to be a favorite for me to blast in circles and groups now made me unsightly choke up. So I left 'Doggy' cold for a few weeks. The song was too perfect for me to even listen to it.

The weeks up to her death, her eyes flooded with blood and her bowels uncontrollably emptied as she stumbled into furniture. The days before her death, she sat underneath her chair and stared blankly out the front door. The day she died, she was scared as I left her. I was too.
But now I focus on how she loved the first snow, to eat some in leaped bounds; how she loved barking at eggs and toasters; how she loved the cool tile floor; how she bent her ears back when you pet her; how she taught herself to raise her paw and ask for more; how the first time I met her, she nibbled on my fingers until I would take her home; how when I did, she ran around me in circles for a full minute before collapsing on my lap.
She shed a lot, and I still find her hairs everywhere. I don't mind anymore.

Isn't this how all music should be? Shouldn't every song take you by the ears and spin you madly until you either puke from the strain or take over and shake yourself wildly in circles because that is the only choice you have to express how wonderful the music has affected you? I believe that to be the only goal for music. If your audience is not brought to tears, to dancefloors, to inspiration, to grinning, to singing, to roaring, to shaking, or even to puking, then you have nothing to offer the world but noise.

/end anecdote+commentary. I posted all three versions for you, the AC obsessive, the AC skeptic, the accidental reader, the mp3 downloader, the searcher, or even the frequent viewer, to discover a taste of what I think is beautiful about this world.


1 comment:

Kitty said...

The songs I like best are the ones that strike me...with some sort of compulsion to do, say, write, or draw something. I love the ones that move me. Physically or otherwise.