Songs Of The Summer 2014: Part Four

This winter was brutal, but we’ve been waiting for summer and now it’s here! Just like last year, we asked our Demo contributors to share a song that reflects their summer so you can have a soundtrack for yours.

By Stuart Oakes, 1st Year, Arts & Science

Song: Your Past Life As A Blast

Artist: Okkervil River

Album: I Am Very Far

The first time hearing “Your Past Life As A Blast” can be a blur, and I fully expect that you will be left with the vague impression of a pleasant, dignified, and dangerously close to unmemorable five and a half minutes. Do not be fooled — while “Past Life” may initially seem slight when placed against Okkervil’s other work, a catalogue filled with big, beautiful, unflinchingly honest moments that tend to kick you in the teeth and set up semi-permanent residence in your head, the song is actually shockingly versatile. Impossibly, the Austin, Texas-based band simultaneously covers every emotional high and low you will experience this summer and provides music that is adaptable enough to fit each particular occasion.

Songwriter William Sheff captures it all; the stories (“Hotels, jails, hospital details/the highway hugs the water”), the bittersweet knowledge that these moments are fleeting (“Squeeze my arm and feel it pull away like someday, baby, when we differ”), reflective, nostalgic moods summoned by the night air (“I’ll tell you what I didn’t say/I’ll tell you about the way I really miss him”), and a firm belief that as long as you take care of your friends, they will help you manage the rest (“No one is going to stop me from loving my brother”, “We’ll shake it, shake it off, and take another”). Meanwhile, the band lays out a multi-purpose acoustic groove; I can picture myself dancing, driving, reading in the sun, falling asleep, exploring, feeling mournful and falling in love, and the song fits each action equally well. So while there may be catchier and more summer-ish tunes, none will carry you as far or soundtrack as many moments as “Past Life” will. Do not believe me? Play it again.

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