Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Separated at Birth: 2 Songs with Bird Metaphors

If you haven't already heard the news, then I am very excited to announce that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Andy Partridge of XTC have each written songs for The Monkees' forthcoming album Good Times. It's no huge surprise though, as both songwriters have long proven themselves to be big fans of the 60s group. I doubt that most would compare XTC and Death Cab, however, but that is what I intend to do.

In 1992, XTC released Nonsuch, which included a few compositions by Colin Moulding, along with the majority composed by Partridge. Among the Moulding compositions was "My Bird Performs."

Prior to presenting the track to the band, Moulding recorded a very simple home demo, which was later released publicly.

The track features a metaphor comparing a girl to a bird and expressing contentment with their situation. 

In 2008, Death Cab for Cutie released Narrow Stairs, which included the more morose song "Talking Bird."

"Talking Bird" also had a simple demo, recorded by Gibbard, and released publicly after the album came out.

Obviously, the fact that both songs had demos isn't much fodder for comparison, but the phrasing, even the reference to an "open cage," is very similar in both songs. The Death Cab piece almost plays as a later part of the same relationship, as though the songwriter got tired of the birdlike antics that were once more charming in 1992, but still loves the "feathered" protagonist.

Total coincidence, but I find it interesting when two fairly different songs share common themes. Stay tuned for more.