Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Fake Empire" - The National

Everyone has their "thing" that they are most attracted to in a person. For some people it's teeth, or height, or hair color. For me, it's voices. There is something ridiculously attractive about a guy with a deep, baritone, growly voice. Matt Berninger, the lead singer of The National, definetly has that going for him. I have no idea what he looks like, but I can guarantee I'd be attracted to him based solely on that voice.   

I first heard this song at my neighbor’s place. His IPod was on shuffle while we were watching TV (Victoria Secret's Fashion Show in case you were wondering), and it was playing through everything from Bob Marley to Opera. I heard "Fake Empire" come on and at first I thought it was actually something by Leonard Cohen. I'd never heard of the song or the band before that point, but it has grown to become one of my favorite songs.

What I like most about music is that you can almost always associate a song with someone or something in your life. Listening to a particular tune can bring back memories of the moment that you first heard it. A song is kind of like a picture in the way that it can capture a moment in time for you.

Important moments and people in my life have a soundtrack that I relate to them. "Hasn't hit me yet" by Blue Rodeo, reminds me of a time a few summers ago. I was driving down the highway in rural Manitoba with someone I loved. We were in my Uncle's Porsche with the top rolled down. I can remember exactly how good the sun felt, and the way the wind whipped through my hair while Blue Rodeo blared on the radio. Good times have their soundtracks but so do the bad times.. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" reminds me of my Amma (Icelandic for Grandma)because it's the song I suggested we play at her funeral. I still get teary eyed when I hear it song, and it always makes me miss her.

Anyways, back to "Fake Empire", the song was released on the band's fourth studio album "The Boxer". The album received critical acclaim and many of the songs from the album were featured in TV shows and movies. Oddly enough "Fake Empire" became the backing track for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. The band leant their recording as well as showed their support for Obama by playing a show with all proceeds going towards his presidential campaign.

The vocals are stunning and the piano playing is incredibly talented. Having played piano myself for many years I know how hard it is to play different tempos on each hand like that. There is speculation on the meaning of the song. Some fans think that the song describes the state of the American Empire - that we choose to sugar coat things, and focus on the good, while turning a blind eye to the bad, "We're half awake in our fake empire.” Ignorance is Bliss after all. Other fans claim the song is about a new love. That it’s about that honeymoon period at the beginning of a relationship when things are uncomplicated and you are happy just to enjoy each other, "No thinking for a little while."

Stay out super late tonight

picking apples, making pies
put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Tiptoe through our shiny city
with our diamond slippers on
do our gay ballet on ice
bluebirds on our shoulders
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Turn the light out say goodnight
no thinking for a little while
lets not try to figure out everything at once
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

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