Queen of the Surface Streets
What a tremendous shit of a day! Only this song saved me, and not for the first time. Everybody (I hope) has their own personal leviathan of an anxiety-calmer, basically the musical equivalent of a rabbit's foot that you keep around for good luck or to clutch during mental emergencies. I've formed no special attachment to any other DeVotchKa song, but this happens to be mine. When I sense the day is going to be a disaster before I even leave the house, I know it's time to dial it up loud on repeat or risk not even surviving all the way to work.
I can't describe music in musical terms but here are specific things I love:
- The incredibly slow, moseying windup, like it's a cool, early summer morning and the wind is drifting sweetly in through an open window and we have all the time in the world to lie around drinking coffee and reading the paper, and then the way the vocals seem to just surface (heh) out of the ether at :29 with hardly any fanfare
- The drums kicking in at :47 in the same low-key but reassuring manner that makes you think, Well I didn't even notice they were missing, yet instantly welcome them
- The lyrics are a form of subway-platform-related empathy and seem to really get me on an existential level. Yes, it is usually like walking into the mouth of hell! Yes, it does frequently smell of urine!
- The violins rising & dipping the whole way through but especially at 1:31
- "And I'll give my days to the Neanderthals"
- "I'll go swimming in the wet concrete and I'll cast my pearls at the unpaved street"
- The pronunciation of "hallucination" at 2:15 in some ancient curling tongue
- The little Mark Mothersbaugh/"Rushmore"-like string-plucking/bell break at 2:40, where the vibe is "take it down a notch, everybody, we've got this" & then the vocals surfacing (heh) again at 3:14
- "You're the queen of all the surface streets / I'm a wiener boy that you're here to meet" = come on, this song mentions hot dogs
- The dreamy, distracted way it just trails off at the end, leaving the impression that they either (a) inexplicably grew bored with their own creation or (b) hated to end it so much they had to put everything down and just walk away, probably (c) shaking their heads in sorrow and fulfillment