The Shrine/An Argument

Album: Helplessness Blues (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • One of several surprises on a first listen to Helplessness Blues is the burst of free-jazz sax that tears into the fabric of this multi-part song. "I was listening a lot to Ascension, by John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane," frontman Robin Pecknold explained to The Independent. "I don't have a ton of experience with that kind of music, but I would put that record on and I liked the way it would just elicit different emotions in me – I'd have this pumped-up energy, like this weird anxiety. I was really into that, the way that music can be capable of producing that feeling. In the context of that song, it's like the different phases of a break-up, so I thought the music in every different section should have the appropriate emotional feeling: the beginning feels really nostalgic, and there's a section in the middle that's loud and rougher, then it goes to this solitary place, then ends in this argument. I was just trying to capture the different phases of a break-up in one song."
  • Pecknold discussed this eight-minute roller coaster with UK newspaper The Sun: "It's a break-up song. I think it was an attempt to do something with a lot of music that would touch on a lot of different things in the course of the song to compliment the more groove-based songs like 'Grown Ocean' or 'Lorelai.'"

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou HarrisSongwriter Interviews

She thinks of herself as a "song interpreter," but back in the '80s another country star convinced Emmylou to take a crack at songwriting.

Colbie Caillat

Colbie CaillatSongwriter Interviews

Since emerging from MySpace with her hit "Bubbly," Colbie has become a top songwriter, even crafting a hit with Taylor Swift.

80s Video Director Jay Dubin

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

Rick Astley

Rick AstleySongwriter Interviews

Rick Astley on "Never Gonna Give You Up," "Cry For Help," and his remarkable resurgence that gave him another #1 UK album.

Dan Reed

Dan ReedSongwriter Interviews

Dan cracked the Top 40 with "Ritual," then went to India and spent 2 hours with the Dalai Lama.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many Songs

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.