Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nonsense -> Mononymic Artists: Feist's Mushaboom

Feist: Mushaboom (live on KEXP)

[purchase studio album]

Unless you're still a pre-teen, or a cultural hermit of some sort, you've probably heard this week's transition song on the radio plenty of times in its original form, as released in 2004 on major label debut Let It Die. But there's actually five or six different versions of the song that came floating around the blogs in the year or two after its release, as Canadian singer-songwriter Feist (legal name: Leslie Feist) made the radio station rounds solo, without the backing of similarly mononymic artist Gonzales, the fellow Broken Social Scene collective member who Feist supported on tour when she was first emerging as a solo artist, and who provides much of the instrumentation on the album.

And with just her quiet, almost-drowned vocals and a simple electrified guitar, under the poppy beat and the silly title, in live performance, Mushaboom turns out to be a sweet song of struggling middle-class longing, offering both self and partner a promise for a better, more rural life, with all the concrete trappings of kids and a flower garden, once the day comes where her "dreams...match up with her pay." Maybe it's just me - and certainly, losing the determined beat of the original recording is a trade-off here - but I think you can hear the dream that much better without all the layers and horns.

*Note: though it's clearly used here for its "sh-boom" sound, technically, "Mushaboom" isn't a nonsense word - it's the name of a sleepy rural seaside community in Nova Scotia, which aptly embodies the dream Feist longs for. But since most people have never heard of the place, or the harbor it was named for, the song title is effectively nonsensical for the vast majority of its audience.

blog comments powered by Disqus