Jenny Lewis Sings – Special Video Selections (I)

Last I wrote, I promised to post some personally selected videos of some of my favorite songs and live performances by Jenny.

It was difficult to narrow down to a small handful from at least 25 songs that I’d want to list but for the purposes of this post, I’ve kept it to mostly Voyager tracks – “Slippery Slopes,” “She’s Not Me,” and the title track, “The Voyager.”
I have also included “Better Son/Daughter” which comes from Rilo Kiley’s second album: The Execution of All Things.  This album came out back in 2002 when I was only just becoming aware of their existence and I was thrilled to see her perform this song live at both of the most recent shows I saw in November of 2014.

“Slippery Slopes” – The Voyager

A deliberately slow, moody tune about the pains and pleasures of life on the road- the singer explores ways to reconcile two lovers’ emotions and supposed boundaries with the problem of a long distance relationship and the matter of questionable degrees of fidelity.
♫ Notable quote: “And if you don’t express it, you will express it later- with whom, God only knows / If for just one second it helps us to remember that we like each other the most.”

“She’s Not Me” – The Voyager

This sassy number feels like a throwback to the disco movement of the 70’s- in the best way.  The instrumentation positively grooves along to a funky disco beat and the lyrics tell of a sort of deservedly jilted lover who still means to keep her head held high.  She knows she was in the wrong and freely admits that she screwed up this past relationship beyond repair.  However, she will console herself with the notion that it’s still his loss at the end of the day because whoever he’s with now, “she’s not me- she’s easy.”
♫ Notable quote: “All those times we were making love, I never thought we’d be breaking up / Bet you tell her I’m crazy..”

“The Voyager” – The Voyager

This song is very pretty while remaining relatively straightforward, musically.  The down-tempo, somewhat plodding chord progression seems very appropriate to the solemn nature of the lyrics and the beautiful, simplistic melody.  The lyrics, I feel, are fairly open to interpretation.  There is some speculation that it has to do with her own father’s terminal illness and subsequent death, leading her to realize her own mortality.  She wrote this entire album after having dealt with that sadness and while spending the following year battling severe insomnia.  It also seems to directly reference the Voyager spacecraft, which was launched some 36 years ago and has traveled further through space than anyone or anything- bringing some thought provoking symbolism to the refrain: “The Voyager’s in every boy and girl / if you wanna get to heaven, get out of this world.” 
“You’re the Voyager / I’m the Voyager.”

“Better Son / Daughter” – The Execution of All Things

This one is sort of considered to be the chosen “anthem” by her fans and has always resonated deeply with me.
The lyrics at first are quite dark and depressing, rooted in the harsh realities of daily life which are most relatable to those of us who are not particularly favored by ‘the powers that be.’  It’s written for those of us who must work very hard for very little in a seemingly bleak, day-to-day existence, hinting toward our own personal struggles with depression or the pain of trying to deal with the needs of an ailing loved one… some days we might wonder why even to get out of bed in the morning?
HOWEVER the song then pauses in the middle and takes a sharp turn toward the truly uplifting and much more encouraging end of the emotional spectrum.  Having outlined all the various reasons one might have to feel sullen and defeated, she suddenly bursts out in an emotionally charged, emphatically triumphant and determined tone of voice, reassuring the listener that in spite of all this, there is still a very good reason to carry on and to use all the strength you can muster to make your way.  Believe in yourself -in spite of yourself- and you will overcome.
“But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap / And it teases you for weeks in its absence / But you’ll fight and you’ll make it through / You’ll fake it if you have to / And you’ll show up for work with a smile”

“Your ship may be coming in / You’re weak but not giving in”

 

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