There are a number of ways to become “That Guy”, the despised, obvious, ostentatious member of society, who so completely ignores unwritten rules of couth and taste in the land leading up to adulthood (and beyond). One is to wear the shirt of the band you’re playing in at the show while you’re playing (thanks Can’t Hardly Wait!), and another is to listen to all of a band’s music on the way to their show. During the week prior to the show here in Buffalo, I broke out all of The Decemberists full length albums, and officially became one aspect of “That Guy”. I was OK with this aspect of That Guy-ness (That Guy-itude?), because I hadn’t listened to The Decemberists in a while.
I put my time in with “Picaresque” and the raw “Castaways and Cutouts”, as well as with “The Crane Wife” and “The Hazards of Love”. When it came to “Her Majesty The Decemberists”, however, I found myself returning over and over again to the melodies, the lyrics, the imagery and the playfulness of the album. For the longest time I could not pinpoint what about this album really made me return to it so easily and so enjoyably. As I sat in my car singing and remembering the lyrics one by one, it dawned on me. I liked this album for the simple reason that it made me want to sing and make my own music. Very few albums have that ability (for me they include Harvey Danger’s “Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone”, and “King James Version”, and Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”), and to realize there was a subtle difference in my ever-growing appreciation of music, was a welcome insight.
The show itself was amazing; with a full performance of “The Hazards of Love” followed by an additional set of favorites which I had to miss (I had to pack for Chicago and Harvey Danger’s last shows—more on that later). I also ran into Hugh and Jer, and Scott and Carin, the latter pair I haven’t seen in over half a year. Did The Decemberists bring us together? Yes they did. They always have, at least between me and Scott. I recalled, during this set, when I first saw The Decemberists at the Sasquatch Festival. My friends kept telling me that I would love them, and I should see them, and I did. At first they were difficult and new, but then they played “The Chimbley Sweep”, and I was sold. I picked up “Her Majesty The Decemberists” that afternoon (I think), and haven’t looked back since. It might be about time I acted a little more forcefully on the desire to make some music of my own. I’d hate to be another aspect of That Guy: the Zombie One Day Musician.