Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Perfect Song: Jens Lekman "Black Cab"

I just finished reviewing an album by a local wunderkind who I thought sounded a bit like Jens Lekman, and lo, YouTube bears me out. I love "Black Cab." Forget the delightful twee video of it, in fact scroll down so it's silly snowball narrative does not detract from the song itself. It encapsulates all the great pop clichés: self-deprecation, megalomania, being piss drunk at the end of the night, internal dialogue, all with unabashed coyness. “I killed the party again. I ruined it for my friends,” he bemoans in the cab he’s forced to take after missing the train and continues “’You’re so silent, Jens.’ Well, maybe I am.” He wants that cab to take him anywhere, like Morrissey did “driving in your car, never want(ing) to go home” in “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” a rather perfect song itself.

That is precisely what a great song should do: take you anywhere, anywhere I don't care. It has naught to do with how desperate where you are happens to be, its the fact that you need an escape, a knotted rope suddenly tumbling down from heaven, a car door opened to you. Jens Lekman doesn’t quite go teenage oblivion like Morrissey does; in fact, he almost seems to be thinking he’s too old to be feeling this way. Morrissey wants the privilege to die by your side, Jens merely entertains the thought that his cab driver might be a murderer, chuckling over the problems this theoretical monster would solve. He maintains the fantasy through the lonely ride of shame home, parlaying any cabbie chatter “You don’t know anything, so don’t ask me questions. Just turn the music up and keep your mouth shut.”

Here is the Smiths for comparison's sake. Forget this video too, and try not to get yourselves killed, tenderhearted former shoplifters of the world.

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