Basket

Album: Nice, Nice, Very Nice (2009)

Songfacts®:

  • The Canadian singer-songwriter had written this song while riding the bus in Vancouver about two weeks after his grandfather passed away.

    In 2009, Mangan spoke to The Telegraph about this song's meaning. "I watched my grandfather recede into memory loss," he said. "He didn't have Alzheimer's, but he certainly had something. He would confuse me with my brother and all the stories he would tell us when we were little kids that we didn't want to hear about, by the time we got to be adults and we were more interested in those stories, he was losing it. So it dawned on me this analogy of your life as a basket. Your whole life your gathering experiences and stories and things you've undertaken putting those all inside the basket and that basket it becomes you and you are the culmination of everything you've ever done and everything that you've ever seen or witnessed. So I was picturing my grandfather's basket falling apart and things were falling out of it. I thought that was fairly tragic.

    It's a sad song, but I feel like there's some redemption to it. It can be avoided. You can hold onto those memories. I think people should do crosswords. I think my grandparents were tired and they sat and watched TV for a couple of decades. I just can't picture doing that. I feel like having a reason to get up and go out and meet people is a good thing."
  • In a Reddit Q&A in 2015, Mangan revealed that both of his grandparents died within a year of each other and what watching their health deteriorate taught him: "They were really loving and good to me, and I have a lot of fond memories of them, but I want to stay alert and active and have friends and find things to love and get crazy about for as long as possible, so the song is kind of like 'your life is this basket full of memories, and what happens if the basket starts to fall apart and the memories fall out, are you still YOU?'.. It's just about maintaining an appreciation for life and fighting for honesty and beauty in every moment, because at that point, things like death aren't that scary, because it's just the next step on the journey."
  • These lyrics display well Mangan's desire to live a full and active life:

    So I'll go but I'm telling you I don't wanna go
    Could be stuck here and happy

    So there's a puzzle I work on endlessly
    And I've got the sides and all the corners
    But there's a space
    Yeah there's a space
    Lost some pieces I can't replace
    So I'll be but I'm telling you I don't wanna be
    Just a wasted puzzle piece
  • This acoustic track from Mangan's sophomore album Nice, Nice, Very Nice is a fan favorite among fans and is his most requested song.

    In our 2016 interview with Mangan, he revealed the impact this tune has had on people. "It's amazing that song," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I've talked to someone around 50 who just buried a senior citizen parent. At the merch table after the gig, they're talking about how that song was a cathartic song for them to hear. It's totally amazing.

    The most rewarding possible thing that a songwriter or an artist of any kind can experience is to hear firsthand from the mouth of somebody else that they don't know the weight or gravity or intensity that something they've made has brought out in somebody else's life. It's simultaneously flattering and humbling. It makes me so thankful that I've been so lucky to be able to do this work.

    With all of the people in the world and all of the suffering and all of the things that people are forced to do for lack of other alternative, the fact that I had a subsidized education and got to go right into a life of playing music for a living, what a stupidly fortunate place to be. And then to be able to experience reading that kind of letter written to you over Facebook or talking to people after a show, it makes you feel very small in the universe in a really powerful way. It's beautiful. It's the most rewarding thing."

    This tune was a crucial moment for Mangan when he started writing songs. It was the first time he felt like he had found his own voice through experimenting with breaking form instead of just emulating the artists he loved.

    Mangan told us about that pivotal occasion: "Coming through the lyrics of 'Basket' and getting through that song and writing it, I thought, 'I don't know any modern songwriters who have written a song like this song.' That was a big pat on the back. Like, 'Cool. I think I just did something that's me.'"

    He continued, "Of course, I'm influenced in a million different ways by a million songs that I've heard and digested, but that was one of the first times I thought to myself, 'I feel like I have infused this song with not just the words of the songwriting world.' I haven't just regurgitated another song for the sake of writing a song.

    It was the first time I thought, 'I feel like my brain is on display. I feel like I have aptly through the socially understood medium of song taken an idea that was in my brain and articulated it in a way that no one else could have.' It was a powerful moment to feel like you're not just participating in the world of song. You are actually using the world of song to be you."

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