06 November 2005

third rock from the sun

3rd planet : modest mouse
click on the image below to listen

The first time I heard 3rd Planet, I felt like I had just been punched in the chest and needed to sulk in a corner to recover. It's the first song from Modest Mouse's album The Moon and Antarctica, and it's most memorable for its opening and last lines. Everything that keeps me together is falling apart, vocalist Isaac Brock declares in the first 23 seconds of the song, and in the last 30, The universe is shaped exactly like the earth, if you go straight long enough you end up where you were. It's not exactly groundbreaking songwriting, but honest enough as to be brutal and piercing. Like most Modest Mouse songs, the lyrics of 3rd Planet are illustrative and disguised, but not so that they're impossible to penetrate. Brock just seems to prefer to relate his thoughts and experiences by transcribing fragments of his dreams. How do you make of words like this: Outside naked, shivering, looking blue, from the cold sunlight that's reflected off the moon/Baby cum angels fly around you reminding you we used to be three and not just two. There's just no one way of telling what it means unless you speak to the writer, and I've read interviews with Brock saying he too often gets lost in his own words. Yet in spite of its disparate images, the song allows you to form your own complete picture of what it could be about, which to me involves a tragic death. But perhaps no one sums up Brock better than Mark Kozelek, who does a complete remake of 11 Modest Mouse songs (not including this one) for his latest album, Tiny Cities: "The lyrics take all these twists and turns...You don't know what it is, but something about it makes you stop and think and feel, and it puts you in this other place." It's not a comfort place, but it's good to touch base with it once in a while.

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