...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This would not've happened if I hadn't missed my plane

The Damien Rice b-side "Rat Within The Grain" from the 9 Crimes single has been steadily pacing towards my favorite song of the moment. Like so many of Damien's creations, this one is piercing and terribly sad, soaked in a wistful bitterness.

I was first snagged purely by the linguistic aesthetics that stopped me in my tracks -- the braids of wordplay like wood/would, want, wonderful, true. The repetition lulls you along like the chugging of a railroad car, then socks you in the gut with the acidity of his meaning.

Rat Within The Grain - Damien Rice

It gouges pretty harshly at the softest parts of my insides, as his jaded self-contempt seeps into the tender, almost-hidden professions of a maybe hopeless kind of love. In one long sentence, he goes from wanting to keep her at arm's length because he knows that parts of him are a turbulent ocean, and wanting so much to be wonderful in her eyes. The circular logic is pristinely bittersweet:

I wouldn't want you to want
to be wanted by me
I wouldn't want you to worry
you'd be drowned within my sea

I only wanted to be wonderful,
in wonderful is true, in truth
I only really wanted to be wanted by you

Isn't that more or less the human condition as it pertains to love, right there?

Then a moment later, the other most striking part of the song:

"In my bed go rest your head
upon the bones of a bigger man
he can cover you with rockwool
and you can close up like a clam . . .

Just because I didn't know what rockwool was, I googled, as I do. I learned that it's an inorganic, alkaline, sterile, inert growing medium, the kind that a gardener would use to replace soil. Maybe that strikes you as too much technical knowledge, that I am a nerd who should just enjoy the song, but for me . . . knowing that makes it an even more brilliant lyric. Sterile. Inert. Alkaline. She closes up.

After I sit here and try to write about it, I realize the futility. Just listen to the song and the weight of the space it occupies. Hopeless and hopeful, redemptive and beyond redemption.



At February 28, 2008 5:49 PM, Blogger bob said...

he is great.

At February 28, 2008 7:22 PM, Blogger pete. said...

This is a great song. Thanks.

At February 29, 2008 8:23 AM, Anonymous juan said...

Rockwool is also used nowadays as a complement for walls to make a room soundproof and "weatherproof" inside, making it much harder to bear anything from the outside.

At February 29, 2008 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always felt that this song was so much more powerful than anything on 9 Crimes, and I've been pretty confused as to why this was a B-Side. I LOVED O and I HATED 9 Crimes, almost to the point of not caring about his career any more. However, this B Side gave me hope that he still has the gift, but perhaps not the gift of self editing? Either way, this is an amazing song and I love that you have written a special post just for it. It's sad when amazing non -album tracks get forgotten. Iron and Wine's Trapeze Artist, for example, I consider his best song. And this Damien Rice B-Side is definitely one of his finest moments.

Love your blog, by the way

At March 01, 2008 7:34 AM, Blogger diabluzero said...

wow! thanks for sharing this, first time I hear him and really liked the lyrics.
somehow I arrived here looking for jason ricci, great blog!

At March 05, 2008 1:15 AM, Anonymous Lady Door said...

Seguo il tuo blog da parecchi mesi ed è sempre un piacere passare per una visita e trovare meravigliosa musica da condividere. Grazie.
Un abbraccio

I've been following your blog for a long time. I'm always delighted to go for a stroll in your pages and find out wonderful music to share. Thank you.

At March 18, 2008 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to agree with you Damien Is A Lyrical Genius. theres no doubt about that. there is this song that i love by an artist his name is "Waz" he has this song called "maria" with very strong lyrics. i love him.

check out his myspace.


peace out

At March 29, 2008 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been knowing your blog for a long time. Now I find that you live in the same town as my little sister does!
Thank you for the wonderful music you post. Ciao


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