Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome to Night Vale Music

I've jumped onto the Welcome to Night Vale bandwagon, as have my entire family.  Besides the adventures of Cecil and all the citizens of Night Vale, I am intrigued by the Weather artists in each episode.  I've decided to explore each song in episodic order.

Up first from the pilot episode is "These and more than these" by Joseph Fink, the producer and co-author of the podcast.  This is performed by the singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar. 

Verse 1: The old church down the street / Concrete beneath my feet / The Shadows of the leaves/ These and more than these.

Chorus:  These and more than these/ Dig in deeper / These and more than these / You gotta dig in deeper.

Verse 2: I speak in ancient tongues / I stare straight at the sun / What I've done can't be undone / These and more than these.


Bridge:  Blood on my hands but not on my soul / Someday, God willing, I will be whole / And up above I feel the love From every star in the sky / I'll never be alone I will never cry / I'll never be alone I will never die.

Verse 3: I hear them speaking still / My will is not my will / I wonder what is real / These and more than these.

Chorus (2x)

Outro:  And these (x6)

This song follows a fairly normal form of two verse-choruses, bridge, and a third verse-chorus.  The eponymous refrain links the verse and chorus, which have different harmonies.  The first verse, like the podcast, starts with deceptively innocent tones.  The major key, oscillating I and V chords, and the imagery of neighborhood churches, streets, and trees portray small town America.  But the refrain is resolved deceptively to a vi chord as the singer indicates that there is more than this innocent facade.  The chorus repeats this warning, over minor chords as the journalistic credo or scientific imperative tells us to dig deeper.  Is this Cecil's song, or Carlos'?  As the composer is also a co-author of the podcast, it is a fair assumption that the song is intended to fit within the universe of the storyline.

The second verse reveals more mystery and odd behavior, though it could also still be interpreted as scientific inquiry. The third line could be acknowledgement of self-harm, or an irreversible spell, or a philosophical viewpoint about the inexorability of time -  even as the happy I and V chords continue.

The bridge takes a darker tone in the lyrics.  The narrator sounds more like Cecil now, with blood on his hands that he does not regret.  We learn in subsequent episodes that Cecil is a practitioner of the blood-stone religion, so he would regularly have blood on his hands.  But Carlos has a hidden past, we don't know what costs he has had to pay to become a preeminent scientist or to get his perfect hair.  The singer emphasizes "whole" and "above" with falsetto notes (and "love" but that starts feeling strained as chest voice is mixed in). 

The third verse sounds much more like Cecil, he often ponders what is real and he is more likely to both hear voices and succumb to them than Carlos.  The repeated "and these" in the outro could be Cecil losing his will, becoming a stuttering automaton.  Or the motto could be the singer finding more mysteries to describe.

No comments: