On my 43 Things, right below “Visit the Statue of Liberty” and right above “Eat a hot dog at Nathan’s on Coney Island”* is what is probably my ultimate goal, but which I don’t have too much control over, so I don’t put too much emphasis on. The goal? To see The Shins perform live.
You know those bands whose every album, LP and unrealeased track you have painstakingly accumulated throughout the year? Well, Jeff Buckley is the one performer who I have done that with. And I do happen to own every Kanye West album, purely on principal at this point. Completing the set, you know?
But alongside my all consuming Jeff addiction, I loved The Shins almost as completely as I did Jeff. At the time, I didn’t have the money, or the resources to fill my iTunes library with both artists, so I stuck with my Jeffy. He was much more dramatic, I thought, and his tracks more rare. Looking back on my Jeff collection, which I do not regret having, I feel a little bamboozled by the owner of his estate. When I turn my duplicates tab on the majority end up being Jeff songs, from different live venues. While the music is different every time he sings it, even I can’t argue buying three of the same thing, damn it.
But, back to the main point of The Shins. I first was introduced to The Shins by myself while I wandered through the CD aisles of the library. Intuition, probably. I was collecting CDs to check out when I saw this great album art, which ended up being The Shins’ Chutes too Narrow. I burned the tracks to my computer and listened to it every night before I went to bed. I was absolutely hooked. Then, Garden State came out and Sam mentioned this “life changing” song by The Shins, which I assumed to be off of my pirated album. When the music began to play, I realized I was wrong and there was more glorious Shins music out there that I wasn’t listening to/letting change my life. The shame!
Because to be honest, something clicked within me the first time I heard those opening chords to “Kissing the Lipless” and the melodic close to the album, “Those To Come,” which lulled me to sleep many a night and sometimes, still does. I was never the same and just to be really dramatic, maybe I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the understanding I gained through James Mercer’s lyrics. Yeah, let’s take it that far.
The next CD I pirated was Oh, Inverted World which proceeded to both up my (fleeting) indie cred and change my life. What a great two-for!
I was a bonafide Shins fan; I downloaded songs from the Know Your Onion and Fighting in a Sack EPs and I waited in anticipation for their 2007 release of Wincing the Night Away. At the time, I was convinced I would one day be a music journalist for The Rolling Stone so I subscribed to the magazine and took their album ratings as second only to God. When they put the Wincing the Night Away review on the cover of the music section, complete with cartoon sketchings, I knew it was going to be another life changing album by The Shins.
I bought this album, which means a lot in the world of Bea. I listened to it on repeat from beginning to end and I felt it and it was one of those divine moments I assume Taylor Swift fan feels when they claim that she “sings about their life.” James Mercer was singing about everyone’s lives, ranging from the outcast high school girls in “Phantom Limb” to the lovers discovering their intertwined lives as destiny in “Sea Legs” to the other lover moving on in “Turn on Me.”
I will never, ever lose any of the love I feel for The Shins and for that album. Seriously, “Girl Sailor” reflects my life more accurately than any Hannah Montana-Cyrus or Taylor Swift song could ever do for me, and it was written by a man twenty years my senior. Which may be a weird testament to my personality, or, more likely, is a testament to the greatness of his lyrics. Or, most likely both.
All this to say, it would be an almost spiritual experience for me to see The Shins perform live for all the important moments in my life they’ve helped me realize and go through, without even realizing. But, a new album doesn’t seem to be in the works any time soon, so neither does touring. But, wandering around their official site yesterday, I found this link to a video from earlier this year with James Mercer singing “Something About Your Love” with Mason Jennings.
And, yes, I hope you’re now realizing that this post was actually just a really, really, absurdly long introduction to this video:
*This might get complicated by my newfound semi-vegetarianism, I may stop sporadically eating meat before I decide to do this. But then again, exceptions can (and will) be made.