There’s something pretty wonderful about a piece of music that says everything it means to in under two minutes — a piece that somehow satisfies its listeners while managing to leave them wanting more. There’s also something great about a highly-recognizable song that addresses a specific category of leisure attire.
If that has you scratching your head, you’ll definitely want to either read on or jump right to the episode.
For Episode 53 of our podcast, Themes and Variation, Carter and I sat down with New York-based singer, songwriter, and incredible person we’re glad to call friend, Tasha Solomita to discuss “Short Songs” (or as one of us chose to hear it, “Shorts Songs”).
The episode is anchored by selections from the catalogs of a chamber ensemble group called the Pixies, an experimental woodwind orchestra known as the Beatles, and an avant-garde electronic jazz quartet that goes by the Royal Teens. No, I’m just kidding. It’s an all rock episode.
Listen to Episode 53 of Themes and Variation in its entirety right here:
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Episode 53 Highlights
1. In his pursuit of understanding, Carter quotes a web commenter.
Carter: “‘The song is a story about an abstracted encounter with and shooting of a hostile stranger.’
First verse: ‘Yo ho!’ Charles is shouting out loud to get the attention of someone far away from him.’
Second verse: ‘Look at me.’ Charles is shouting with increasing volume from an echoy distance in another attempt to get the unknown person’s attention.’
Third verse: ‘Friend or foe? Charles starts out with shouting, and with each repetition it gets quieter and less echo-y. The person is getting closer, until finally we are right there with Charles whispering to us. This is where there goes, my gun comes in as the conclusion. The chorus of the song that we’ve been listening to. The unknown is, in fact, a foe. And Charles’ gun goes off.’
So yeah, that’s what some random person on the internet said, which… I actually really liked that.”
2. Tasha on “Golden Slumbers” and the importance of the order of tracks on Abbey Road:
Tasha: “It was meant to be a lullaby from the beginning, you know? It’s supposed to be about the feeling of thinking about when you’re a child and knowing that you’re not gonna have that forever. And then ‘Carry That Weight’ is supposed to be, you know, someday you’re gonna be an adult and you’re gonna have to carry that weight a long time. The tone of the song is perfect for that ’cause it’s mournful and it’s melancholy. And it starts with this little twinkling, majory sounding thing, and then it drops into the minor key.”
3. Mahea on the grit and simplicity of “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens:
Mahea: “Because of the performance, and the call and response element, and the sort of nonchalant way that the lyrics get sung, it took me a while to realize exactly how simple the melody is — like not just in terms of pitch. It is all quarter notes and it doesn’t stray from that. But there’s something gritty and interesting about the performance that makes it feel really cool, and maybe part of it is that the melody just hangs on that flat third at first. It just feels a little rebellious without actually being rebellious.”
Join the Conversation
One of our favorite things about our podcast is the fact that the conversation around each theme is so much bigger than the episode itself. We’d love to hear which songs you would have chosen for this episode! Share them with us on Twitter or, if you’re a Soundfly subscriber, in the #podcast channel on Slack.
Plus, with every new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in this episode and more. Here’s this episode’s Spotify playlist!
We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!