Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #997: Low – “Nothing But Heart”

Album: C’mon
Year: 2011

I’m nothing but heart

Repetition is a tricky thing. Building an entire eight-minute song around singing a single lyric over and over and over again in theory probably shouldn’t work, but on their greatest song, Low slowly builds an entire tower of song around a single, slowly repeated phrase.

I’m nothing but heart

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Certain Songs #996: Low – “When I Go Deaf”

Album: The Great Destroyer
Year: 2005

But it was this song that made me a fan.

As somebody who’s been told that “the music’s too loud” for over four decades (and now has to watch TV with the closed captions on), “When I Go Deaf” resonates with me on multiple levels. For one thing: it’s almost unutterably gorgeous. Until it isn’t. And even then, it really is.

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Certain Songs #995: Low – “California”

Album: The Great Destroyer
Year: 2005

I’m going to be honest: if Low has made a great song between 1994’s I Could Live in Hope and 2005’s The Great Destroyer, I haven’t heard it.

And I’m not being snarky: outside of Long Division, which I’ve just added to my current mix and haven’t remotely processed, I just haven’t heard any of their records in that period. That said, The Great Destroyer was the first Low album I ever heard, and I haven’t missed one since.

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Certain Songs #994: Low – “Words”

Album: I Could Live in Hope
Year: 1994

Often credited with helping to invent the sub-genre known as “slowcore,” a reaction to the noisy noisiness of grunge, Low had their sound dialed in from the very start of their debut album, I Could Live in Hope.

With Alan Sparhawk’s guitar tuned way down, John Nicols’ bass dominating the mix and Mimi Parker’s drums approximating someone walking down the street lost in thought, “Words” was a perfect way to introduce them to the world.

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Certain Songs #993: The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Do You Believe in Magic?”

Album: Do You Believe in Magic?
Year: 1965

Ah, folk rock. It was once such a thing that MTV dedicated the debut episode of a show called Rock Influences in 1984 to the genre, then thought to be undergoing a resurgence due to a little band from Athens, GA called R.E.M.

Whether or not R.E.M. were really folk rock is a thing we’ll get to when we get to R.E.M., of course, but for now, one of the highlights of that episode was an excerpt from a R.E.M. concert where they brought Lovin’ Spoonful singer-songwriter John Sebastian to do an incredibly awkward version of “Do You Believe in Magic?” Side note: he seemed so old compared to R.E.M. at the time, but of course he was 15 years younger than I am now.

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