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This Is My Favorite Song, But I Don't Understand It

John Roderick of The Long Winters
John Roderick of The Long Winters
Victoria VanBruinisse

Tonight at the Bootleg, Seattle literary-rockers The Long Winters perform their classic 2003 work When I Pretend to Fall in its entirety.

They are a very important band because they are a very good band, but tend not to get their due, perhaps in part because they release albums about as often as most people get new refrigerators, partly because frontman John Roderick is very opinionated, but mostly because music critics are terrible people who have been raised to believe melody = weak sauce.

But while their tunes are completely accessible, their lyrics often aren't, and the song "Shapes" -- which is off When I Pretend to Fall and, I'll just say it, my favorite song of all times -- is no exception. Though it is an exception, because, despite being written in uncomplicated English words, it's particularly impenetrable.

So, since the song is now ten years old and I've cluelessly sung it aloud hundreds of times, maybe it's time to take a closer look!

Rice won't grow at home

And the moon doesn't favor girls

Yes, there's really no disputing this: Rice will not grow in one's home, unless one's home is flooded.

The moon not favoring girls maybe has something to do with trying to get your lady pregnant. You want to have a female baby, and you're resorting to all sorts of superstitious tips for achieving this. Some literature suggests a full moon is more likely to create a fallopian tube environment susceptible to boys, so you'll probably want to avoid that.

Giant fork and spoon

Is a sign that the game is on

The Minneapolis sculpture garden has a giant spoon sculpture with a cherry in it, and people brag about having sex there. (No giant fork, though.) Or perhaps this line concerns those big serving forks and spoons you get from wedding registries; when you receive them you know that this marriage has really happened and that the fucking game is fucking on.

You know karate now?

From a show?

Yes, karate is something you want to learn from a live teacher, standing in front of you and making sure you don't hurt your hand when smashing through those oak two by fours.

When two of the raiders come

I'm counting on you to throw more than shapes

The raiders surely refer to Oakland Raiders and/or their fans, but "throwing shapes" is a bit harder to parse. This may have something to do with the band Saga or dancing or playing a mean guitar solo. Roderick once told me it was an expression he heard used in Britain, but that when he later returned to Britain to perform the song even people there didn't know what it meant.

Men now don't fight with swords

But I would be good

I'd cut you not just with words

This seems to be a dig at hipsters.

So you melt chocolate hearts

Well I can forestall the Sun

The ultimate manly pick-up line: You, cute, Deschanel-esque girl also in line at the movie theatre to see the new David Fincher movie by yourself, may be lovely and have an impeccably-tight leggings game, but at the end of the day when there's an apocalypse situation, who will protect you from coming badness? I, that's who.

Angels, Russians, where I fear to tread

Secrets, secrets, damn your secrets

Every time it comes to the last part of this couplet I sing, as loudly as possible, DAMN RYAN SEACREST!

So you melt chocolate hearts

Well I can forstall the Sun

When two of the raiders come

I'm counting on you to throw more than shapes

Just so you know

It's all I'm waiting for

Buck up, baby. Make a decision, the right decision, which is to love me, because if you don't do that you're fucking screwed, and that's a lot to have on my conscience.

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Bootleg Theater

2200 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

213-389-3856

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