Monday, December 3, 2012

Beirut - The Rip Tide (2011)

"Soon the waves and I found the rolling tide..."

Imagery is one of the most difficult things to achieve in music.  Skilled lyricists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and more recently, Conor Oberst can use their words to illustrated a particular scenario.   However, there are very few musicians who can successfully paint an image using just music alone.  For example, if you took out the lyrics to say, "Like a Rolling Stone," would you be able to figure out the song's context by just listening to the music?  Probably not.

Beirut's "The Rip Tide," the titular track off their 2011 album, is a prime example of how music alone can influence the senses.  Lyrically, the song is actually quite simple.  It's only comprised of two verses and one chorus.  That's it.  Furthermore, there's really nothing too deep about the lyrics themselves.  The narrator is alone in a vast ocean - the end.

That said, "The Rip Tide" is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music I've heard in years.  After a very brief and subtle piano interlude, the song sets sail with a fascinating string and brass melody.  Good...GOD!  Now this is why I love music!  This melody is so moving that when I first heard it, I nearly shed a tear.  If you close your eyes, you can literally feel yourself sailing through the desolate sea.  As a result, you start to feel isolation, and you sympathize with the person at sea.  Yes - the music alone makes you feel sorry for the narrator.  It's almost unimaginable.

I'm not really sure if I got my point across.  After all, "The Rip Tide" really does need to be heard in order to understand exactly what I'm saying.  Lyrics are important, without a doubt; but the beauty of music is that it can illustrate different moods simply through composition and instrumentation.  In the past few years, I can't think of a better song that has managed to accomplish this so effortlessly.


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