Thursday, July 6, 2017

Right: Red Right Ankle

The Decemberists: Red Right Ankle

We’ve heard much about Right hands since this theme started, but not so much about other body parts. So, here’s one about a Red Right Ankle, from the Decemberists.

I’ve made it abundantly clear, both on this blog, and elsewhere, that I’m a big fan of the Decemberists, while acknowledging their penchant for pretentiousness, bombast and prominent use of words even too obscure for the SAT verbal.

Back in 2007, lead singer and songwriter Colin Meloy was interviewed by the A.V. Club, and was asked:

AVC: You are known for writing novelistic lyrics about obscure historical figures. Have you ever been tempted to write about something more typical, like your girlfriend or something else in a personal vein? 

CM: I do write songs about my girlfriend. They just come out in different ways. Specifically, once we had a fight and she drove all the way to Vancouver to get away for the weekend, and I sat down and was like, "I'm going to write as many songs for her as I possibly can." "Red Right Ankle" came out of that, which was probably more of your typical "write a song about your girlfriend" song. 

So, “Red Right Ankle” is a song about Meloy’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, Carson Ellis, a book illustrator who also does the artwork for the Decemberists. And while it is a relatively simple song, and beautiful in that simplicity, Meloy cannot help himself but to refer to his beloved's  “muscle, bone and sinews,” a “gypsy uncle,” and a “hide-out in the Pyrenees.”

Because even in a love song, Meloy insists on the unexpected.

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