Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Perfect Songs Give Me Goosebumps

Two green bottles of beer down after nine hours of work completed and I am listening to an album that is so good that it takes me back fifteen years. Specifically, it's "Turn On Me" by The Shins. We all know what Natalie Portman's Sam said about them in Garden State: "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life I swear."

She was talking about "New Slang" from Oh, Invented World and she was dead on. But as close to perfect as that song was, "Turn On Me" hits just a bit more snugly into the heart of perfection. They just get those melodies so right. It reminds me of when I saw Jellyfish play at 328 Performance Hall so many years ago. Their debut was one of those great finds from my record store days. I popped in the promo cassette for Bellybutton and was a Jellyfish fan within three songs.

Over the next few months it was my mission to turn as many people onto that band as possible. One guy, Richard Smith, a regular customer, was one of the people who bought that CD thanks to in-store play and my enthusiastic sales pitch. (That makes it sound like dirty commerce, but it was more about the music than the sale.) Anyway, he was a musician in Louise Mandrell's band and other members of the band bought that awesome Jellyfish CD from me over the next few days. I was the record store guy version of the girl from that movie saying, "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life I swear."

Anyway, when Jellyfish played 328 Performance Hall in Nashville, the place was filled with people. I would suspect that there were very few in attendance who were not musicians themselves (easy call for a Nashville crowd, but it seemed more the case here than usual). It was a wonderfully amazing show. They were power pop at its finest, with nods to The Beatles, Queen, and classic Beach Boys harmony. What I remember most about that 328 show was the absolutely stunning sound of a thousand or so awestruck fans (a collective gasp that gave me goosebumps!) after one particularly moving bit of harmonizing by the band. It was like a packed room full of people who had lived in music studios themselves, knowing just how hard it was to capture for tape what the guys on stage were doing so precisely - live, for them, right then.

This post about The Shins seems to have become a post about Jellyfish. What I mean to share is that it is so rare and so special to find a band who just seems to be so great at making perfect pop songs that don't sacrifice the heart of good songwriting for the quest of sonic perfection. The Shins seem to be my new Jellyfish. It's like it's 1991* all over for me again.

*Jellyfish's Bellybutton CD was actually released in 1990, but like the '60s really didn't get started until 1964 and lasted into the early '70s, 1991 as I like to remember it started in 1990 and ran through early 1993.

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