You gotta spend some time love, you gotta spend some time with me.
Death Cab for Cutie
I Will Possess Your Art
My good friend Dave suggested this post to me, so it’s really his idea in motion. I recently introduced him to my favourite song of 2008, I Will Possess Your Heart by Death Cab For Cutie. Now you may be familiar with the single version that has been on the radio. It is about 4 or so minutes long and lacks the very thing that makes the album version so noteworthy. Clocking in at 8:26 this long song uses the often unappreciated concept of dynamics to make it’s point. My high school band, Urban Moon, was often obsessed with the idea of dynamics in music, so I feel moderately qualified to talk about this.
This particular song begins simply enough with bass, and builds through drums, guitar, piano, and finally vocals. For the first half of the song (the bit you won’t hear on the radio) the song slowly climbs the mountain of volume. It tempts the listener to expect the song to “really” start many many times, but keeps him/her in suspense for minutes. When we reach the top of the mountain (the point where the vocals begin) the music inexplicably shuts down leaving just a single voice to explain what’s going through his mind. The rest of the song follows the more pop conventions you hear on the radio, though bits and pieces constantly fade in and out of the mix. All of this creates a sense of moving atmosphere, suspense, and urgency that propels this song. It’s a shame an 8 minute song rarely makes it on the radio, because the entirety of I Will Possess Your Heart is a strong lesson in the use of dynamics to enhance a song.