Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Heard Somebody Say-Devendra Banhart

I don't know if we are still doing dedication 'week', but I suppose that if this song were to be appropriately dedicated to anybody, it would be to John Lennon, whose anniversary of his death was widely thought of last month. Devendra Banhart has the kind of voice that tends to annoy people that concern themselves with the qualities and affectations of singing. He has a very prominent and high-frequency vibrato that creates both distinctiveness and a kind of aged quality to his folky poppy music.

Cripple Crow is really a Beatles tribute album at its heart. This is obvious from the Sergeant Pepper-esque cover art and the assorted psychedelia associated with the art and music. It is fitting then that many of the songs have a certain Beatles quality associated with them, somewhat of a departure from the more minimalist and quiet but very excellent Rejoicing In The Hands.

Heard Somebody Say is probably not the centrepiece of this broad and vast CD, but it is my favourite track, simply because of its exceptional mimicry of John Lennon's best song, Across The Universe. The track begins with a simple series of piano chords before being joined by the standard Beatles set of instruments. The lyrics kind of line up like the following:

Across the Universe
Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Heard Somebody Say
I heard somebody say
that the war ended today
but everybody knows its goin' still
om mother lands and mother seas
here's what we believe
its simple
we don't wanna kill


The chorus isn't too different either. Instead of Jai Guru Deva Om there is simply a beautiful hymnal
series of ooohhhs and ummms and Nothing's Gonna Change My World is simply replaced by We don't
wanna kill. Kind of an appropriate sentiment.

There is one more additonal Beatle-y surprise near the end of the song, which is an approximately one
minute instrumental that sounds like it was lifted out of parts of Magical Mystery Tour. I'm always going
to be a sucker for music that sounds like the Beatles, and this is one of the finest I've heard in a very long
time. Not all the songs on Cripple Crow are quite this good, but it easily places among my top 20 CDs for
last year.