Why I Love Fleet Foxes

"My brother, where do you intend to go tonight?
I heard that you missed your connecting flight,
To the Blue Ridge Mountains, over near Tennessee
You're ever welcome with me any time you like,
Let's drive to the country side,
Leave behind some green-eyed look-a-likes,
So no one gets worried, no
So no one gets worried, no.
But, Sean, don't get callous,
I'm sure it'll be fine
I love you, I love you,
Oh brother of mine."

I first heard Fleet Foxes in the snow. Ireland was going through one of the worst winters in recent history and everything was covered white. I had been recommended their debut by several friends who felt it was perfectly suited for me. They were right. There is such heart and feeling in the music they make. They have reverence for the natural world. They have the harmonies of the Beach Boys crossed with the low down, gritty stomp of The Band. And that voice! Robin Pecknold is on a very short list of my favourite vocalists.

I remember listening to the album on Christmas morning, along with The Creek Drank the Cradle by Iron & Wine and Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective. It was a good year for music. I used to prize games over anything at Christmas time. I changed my preference to music when my father bought me Blonde on Blonde one year. Since then music has been the thing for Christmas or a birthday. When I heard Fleet Foxes, it was at a difficult time in my life. As previously mentioned in Why I Love The Creek Drank The Cradle, I was going through an acceptance that the first woman I loved could not love me. "I was following the, I was following the, I was following the..." I slipped on the ice and messed up my arm. I was playing a lot of Magic: The Gathering with my friends and this woman was frequently with us. She brought her new man and I couldn't help but feel hopelessly sad that it wasn't me. The stunning melodies and harmonies brought me to a better place. The world seemed to change with the music.

Fleet Foxes is the music of the isolated. Lyrically the first album is very different than the second. While it is tremendously satisfying emotionally, the songs are about a long time ago. They are sounds from a past that was about the big picture, not individuals. Helplessness Blues however is very personal and of the moment. "So now I am older than my mother and father, when they had their daughter. Now what does that say about me?" That their second album was harder to make than the first is not surprising and suggests that the personal slant was a reaction to this difficulty. It will be interesting to see where Fleet Foxes' third album, Crack-Up will fall in this regard.

Fleet Foxes push you to imagine a sad and beautiful world. Take a drive up by the Sally Gap in Wicklow, Ireland and let the music take you to a place and time that you never experienced, but yet understand immediately. The natural world will soothe your anxieties and ease your depression. Every song by Fleet Foxes holds this to be true. Just get out in the world already!

"Come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long
The spring is upon us, follow my only song
Settle down with me by the fire of my yearning
You should come back home, back on your own now
The world is alive now, in and outside our home
You run through the forest, settle before the sun
Darling, I can barely remember you beside me
You should come back home, back on your own now."

Return to the world. Stop isolating yourself. Get with your family. Get with people you love and most importantly who love you right back. A memory of a better time. It can be like that again. Trust me. Ragged Wood is the song of that return. "The spring is upon us..." Growth and life and colour as far as you can see. My father had a cottage in Leitrim, out in the wilderness. That was the first place I heard the Pet Sounds Sessions, and Smiley Smile. When I listen to Fleet Foxes it takes me back to that time. The a capella vocals filling the house while you were still half asleep. I wish we had that cottage now. I would give quite a lot of money to hear a capella versions of the songs on Fleet Foxes' albums inside those walls.

Let's talk about a few of my favourite tracks. White Winter Hymnal obviously. Woooo wooooo wooooo. I was following the pack, all swallowed in their coats, with scarves of red tied 'round their throats. To keep their little heads from falling in the snow, and I turned 'round and there you go. And Michael, you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime. It is a vision of winter with an eye on summer. The warmth will return. The spring will set things into life again. Oliver James... On the kitchen table that your grandfather did make. You in your delicate way will slowly clean his face. And you will remember when you rehearse the actions of an innocent and anxious mother full of anxious love. That perfect love. That perfect beauty of a caring mother. You would give anything to be that son or that lover. Blue Ridge Mountains is my favourite song on the album. Every time I hear it I think of my brother, who I love dearly. It is a song about reunion and family that sticks by you through every crisis.

Fleet Foxes make music that transforms and inspires. It is from a long line of people inspired by folk and traditional music but it also speaks to the modern world in a way that few have managed. It is the antithesis of the bustle and never ending deadlines of life in 2017. It is the antidote to that chaos. It is quite simply, some of the best goddamn music you will ever hear.

"Tell me anything you want, any old lie will do. Call me back to, back to you."


Popular posts from this blog

Why I Love Calvin and Hobbes

Why I Love Free Speech

Why I Love Batman V. Superman