Friday, April 04, 2014

What the hell?

What is this?  The weather in episode 11 of Welcome to Night Vale is "Cigarette Burns Forever" by Adam Green.  After looking at pictures of him, you would think a song with this title would be tortured, gritty, perhaps emo.  Instead, we get lounge singer stylings of lyrics that at first listen seem very trivial. The rhyme schemes are very basic, aaaa for each stanza, and aabb for the pseudo bridge.  Many of the rhymes use the same word - her and her, or other and other.  The chord pattern also seems basic:  I - iii - IV - I repeated for the first stanza, followed by another I - iii - IV - I and I - iii - IV - V for the second stanza.  This seems like the verse, though interestingly the normal pattern of having interior phrases ending on V and ending phrases ending on I is reversed.  The third stanza ("The sidewinder drinks and gambles") is the beginning of the next verse, but this verse is only one stanza long, ending again with the V chord.  The fourth stanza uses the same set of progressions as the third stanza, but has a slightly different melody, so I call it a pseudo bridge.  This is followed by the last stanza as the last verse, with the same paired progressions.  This means the first stanza stands alone as an introduction.  The rest of the song establishes the idea of one stanza per verse (or bridge), with the chord pattern I - iii - IV - I, I - iii - IV - V.  And yet it is the beginning of a song that normally establishes patterns and expectations, so which verse is the normal one?  That is confusing enough, but the lyrics also baffle me: 
Cigarette burns forever
The message is spliced together
Now I would never let her
But where did people go to get her

You took me to the private party
And swore that they would not card me
Drive careful less they hear ye
When all the time they learnt to fear you.

The sidewinder drinks and gambles
The gold digger strikes his damsels
But when I lost the magic sandals
I said some things I could not handle.

Going 90 off my star
So is flashing by as the flame retards
Don't you wanna be some other
And all the people have to drug each other.

I fell into a life of leisure
I saw to a path of pleasure
Don't it make it that much better
To find a cigarette burns forever
 What does this mean?  The first stanza feels like an interruption, or the continuation of a previous conversation/idea.  The second stanza has more narrative sense, except the tense is messed up in the third line.  And what in the world are the magic sandals of the third stanza?   Drugs?  Sanity?  Seven-league boots? Each stanza has some element of non sequitur or absurdism, and there is no continuity from one stanza to the next.

Is this a work of staggering genius, a hipster Finnegan's Wake? I listened to another of Adam Green's works and it has the same lounge singer vibe.  Is he being ironic?  Or is this pretentious crap?  I feel the latter right now, but the words are still digging at me, making me try to figure out what they mean.  I think the music itself is lame, even when considering the slightly interesting formal design. 

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