The Celibate Life
The Shins Lyrics


The dust from a four-day affair is now landing
All over the floor and your brown legs
The gold plated legs of my rival
Whose eyes have no reason to fall

You've led a celibate life
No skirt while chemicals danced on your head
You stole the keys to this ride and your fables are falling tonight

Because of your struggle to make them
Their taste for your past time is fading
Remember the girls in the middle
are always the first to fall off

You've learned to live like a mouse
Searching the cracks in the floor to remember
All of the dregs in the crowd you barely recall

You've led a celibate life
No skirt while chemicals danced on your head
You stole the keys to this ride and you're falling tonight

Lyrics © O/B/O APRA/AMCOS

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Most interesting comment from YouTube:

Great Pianists

This man is a genius.

I sincerely believe that he is one of the best damn melodists of the past 25 years if not 50.

I don't normally like ranking things good-better-best or making odious rankings between great musicians, who deserve equal rankings for their own unique contributions. I think said rankings (like the "top 10 greatest such-and-such") are among the stupidest, most divisive, and most destructive things that have ever been inflicted upon the world by anybody.

The above paragraph is basically a sort of check, or stop, to myself before I go off the deep end and start rattling off the past and current composers/musicians that I think Mr. Mercer is better than... it would just be a pointless exercise and offend a lot of people who don't share my opinions.

The POINT is that anyone who thinks this music is poorly-written (fortunately, no one in the comments on this video... yet), simply doesn't have their ears screwed on straight.

As a budding musicologist, I would like to point out that Mr. Mercer, in his melody-writing, consistently chooses arguably the most interesting (and in this particular song, most beautiful) of all possible successive melody notes, and keeps the number of  immediately repeated melody notes to a minimum, COMPARED with most other pop composers whose music I hear on current Top 40 radio (and even compared with most "indie rock" and "indie pop" composers whose music I've heard).

In other words, because of this constant use of DIFFERENT successive melody notes, with enough repetition of phrases, half-phrases and cadences to keep it at least slightly "catchy", Mr. Mercer's music (in my opinion) can be adapted to a wider variety of instruments and performance styles than can many other recent rock or pop songs that are more "performance pieces" than true stand-alone SONGS.

(Though I hesitate to use the term "catchy" with this music, since even as a musician it has taken me quite awhile to remember each song well enough to sing it all the way through, even without learning the harmony or the other parts... these songs take some getting used to in order to be memorable, but I think that once they're in your memory, you're happy they're there, since they each have great musical riches),

I believe that Mr. Mercer is in his own way like one of the great songwriters of yesteryear who are currently (after their death) lionized beyond their wildest dreams, at least by some. I hope that in the near and far future, the inherent high quality, high originality, and craftsmanship (if nothing else, and there is a LOT else) of Mr. Mercer's music will be univerally recognized. I certainly hope it comes while he is still around to appreciate it.

Currently, it seems that the world of rock and pop music looks favorably upon him and his band(s) (perhaps this world looks up to him?), which I think is completely justified.

However, I am not so sure they fully realize the extent of his greatness, and not sure they realize his unusual melodic gifts as compared with almost every other living rock composer (in my opinion), seeing as how I very very seldom see any kind of musical/compositional discussion or jargon taking place in any articles I've read about bands or musicians in major rock and popmusic periodicals/blogs (that I like and read) such as Rolling Stone, Spin, LA Record, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Pitchfork, etc etc.

The articles , record reviews, and interviews found in same, seem to focus almost exclusively on the following elements: lyrics; instrumentation; timbre; perceived message(s) in the music/lyrics; perceived emotional content; overall (visual) package of the album itself; motivation(s) of the artist(s) behind the work.

All of these are very important, of course (especially that last one, in the interviews), but rarely do I see any in-depth discussion into a particular writers' melody or harmony (and rarely even rhythm). Call me old-fashioned (and when it comes to popmusic I can be extremely old-fashioned), but I think how well-written a tune's melody is, can really make or break that tune, even amongst today's younger audiences, and even with a well-played, well-produced performance. Thus, I think that these fine publications should give some space towards specific discussions about melody.

What gives, periodicals?



All comments from YouTube:

Kate McGill

This is my favourite song ever in the world

CoffeyMayne

I know you said this a decade ago, but same. I did a high school senior paper on this song in 2010 lmao

tyl

This album is gold.

Kitty

Just went to their concert last night. So amazing. Had the opportunity to meet James Mercer. So humble and sweet. Received an autograph and a picture. I am very grateful that happened to me. You must see them live, AT LEAST. And if you are lucky, I hope you can receive the same opportunity I did. :) The Shins are amazing.

Pinky

Why are the best songs always so short?!

trysometruth

+Emani Odumosu I think for some of them, that's part of the greatness, the shortness. There are songs out there that are truly wonderful except for one thing - the artists knew the song was wonderful and couldn't let go, and made the would've-been-great-at-a-minute-and-a-half song into a six-minute unfortunately indulgent extravaganza.

Great Pianists

This man is a genius.

I sincerely believe that he is one of the best damn melodists of the past 25 years if not 50.

I don't normally like ranking things good-better-best or making odious rankings between great musicians, who deserve equal rankings for their own unique contributions. I think said rankings (like the "top 10 greatest such-and-such") are among the stupidest, most divisive, and most destructive things that have ever been inflicted upon the world by anybody.

The above paragraph is basically a sort of check, or stop, to myself before I go off the deep end and start rattling off the past and current composers/musicians that I think Mr. Mercer is better than... it would just be a pointless exercise and offend a lot of people who don't share my opinions.

The POINT is that anyone who thinks this music is poorly-written (fortunately, no one in the comments on this video... yet), simply doesn't have their ears screwed on straight.

As a budding musicologist, I would like to point out that Mr. Mercer, in his melody-writing, consistently chooses arguably the most interesting (and in this particular song, most beautiful) of all possible successive melody notes, and keeps the number of  immediately repeated melody notes to a minimum, COMPARED with most other pop composers whose music I hear on current Top 40 radio (and even compared with most "indie rock" and "indie pop" composers whose music I've heard).

In other words, because of this constant use of DIFFERENT successive melody notes, with enough repetition of phrases, half-phrases and cadences to keep it at least slightly "catchy", Mr. Mercer's music (in my opinion) can be adapted to a wider variety of instruments and performance styles than can many other recent rock or pop songs that are more "performance pieces" than true stand-alone SONGS.

(Though I hesitate to use the term "catchy" with this music, since even as a musician it has taken me quite awhile to remember each song well enough to sing it all the way through, even without learning the harmony or the other parts... these songs take some getting used to in order to be memorable, but I think that once they're in your memory, you're happy they're there, since they each have great musical riches),

I believe that Mr. Mercer is in his own way like one of the great songwriters of yesteryear who are currently (after their death) lionized beyond their wildest dreams, at least by some. I hope that in the near and far future, the inherent high quality, high originality, and craftsmanship (if nothing else, and there is a LOT else) of Mr. Mercer's music will be univerally recognized. I certainly hope it comes while he is still around to appreciate it.

Currently, it seems that the world of rock and pop music looks favorably upon him and his band(s) (perhaps this world looks up to him?), which I think is completely justified.

However, I am not so sure they fully realize the extent of his greatness, and not sure they realize his unusual melodic gifts as compared with almost every other living rock composer (in my opinion), seeing as how I very very seldom see any kind of musical/compositional discussion or jargon taking place in any articles I've read about bands or musicians in major rock and popmusic periodicals/blogs (that I like and read) such as Rolling Stone, Spin, LA Record, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Pitchfork, etc etc.

The articles , record reviews, and interviews found in same, seem to focus almost exclusively on the following elements: lyrics; instrumentation; timbre; perceived message(s) in the music/lyrics; perceived emotional content; overall (visual) package of the album itself; motivation(s) of the artist(s) behind the work.

All of these are very important, of course (especially that last one, in the interviews), but rarely do I see any in-depth discussion into a particular writers' melody or harmony (and rarely even rhythm). Call me old-fashioned (and when it comes to popmusic I can be extremely old-fashioned), but I think how well-written a tune's melody is, can really make or break that tune, even amongst today's younger audiences, and even with a well-played, well-produced performance. Thus, I think that these fine publications should give some space towards specific discussions about melody.

What gives, periodicals?

Chris Krüger

Damn this just sucks dude

james Doctor

Great Pianists you ate too much Adderall

Options Specialist

Great Pianists
Took me three years to read this. I agree. ☝🏽

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