Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Incongruous Music


Have you ever heard a song where the lyrics and music just do not match? (I know I have had this conversation with some of you.)

The song that first made me aware of this phenomenon is the Decemberists' Crane Wife 3 (which you can watch live here, or see with someone's cheesy slideshow here). The tune is really catchy stuff, and I have heard a Quincy living room full of young folks belt the chorus together. But the lyrics are actually quite depressing, a retelling of a Japanese folk tale (also developed in Crane Wife 1 & 2). As the narrator tells the story he confesses his guilt. That chorus, so exuberantly sung: "I will hang my head low."

Attentive readers, I have two questions for you: (1) Can you share other examples of this phenomenon? I know there are plenty more out there. (2) What explains this odd situation? Are the Colin Meloys of the world just sloppy? Is there some larger purpose at work here? Or is he (and those like him) just trying to be provocative?
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