There is no defense against an earworm.
Even if the tune drives you mad (Call Me Maybe) and/or the lyrics are insipid (Blurred Lines) or the artist has no discernible talent (Miley-Bieber-et al), earworms are something to which you must surrender. You’ll be a lot happier acknowledging the sheer ear candy’s appeal than wearing your music snob-critic mask of misery.
Fortunately, there are good earworms. Enter The Handsome Family’s Far From Any Road.
This rumba-Tex-Mex song graces the opening of HBO’s True Detective and delivers a true, foreboding desert chill:
From the dusty mesa
Her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches
Of the poison creosote
She twines her spines up slowly
Towards the boiling sun
And when I touched her skin
My fingers ran with blood
My main complaint about modern songwriting is the paucity of good lyrics. This is the best lyric writing I have seen in a long, long time from American artists.
However, the music is the perfect frame for these Keatsian words. The spine is a rumba rhythm strummed on an acoustic guitar, accompanied by light drums and percussion, but it’s the duo’s shared vocals that set the haunted, desert tone:
When the last light warms the rocks
And the rattlesnakes unfold
Mountain cats will come
To drag away your bones
Then rise with me forever
Across the silent sands
And the stars will be your eyes
And the wind will be my hands
My ever-so-short email interview with Rennie Sparks:
1. How does it feel to have your song used in a critically acclaimed HBO series? It feels pretty darn good. Are you surprised? We love the show and are proud to be a part of it. 2. Has this made an impact on interest in your music? Yes! Everything is changed. We have a lot of new fans who are finding us little by little through the show. 3. Do you watch the show? Heck yeah. Loved it all. We often watched it once and then again with captions on to get all the dialogue… 4. The lyrics are exquisite. Any hints as to their meaning or origin? They're about living in the desert. About strange night-blooming plants and the strange abilities of cacti to survive for long periods. They're about dust storms and mystery. Love and death… 5. The music suggests a rumba feel, but there's also a Tex-Mex influence as well. Where does this come from? What influences? Sounds right to me. Sexy and sinister hopefully. Definitely inspired a bit by Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra and a lot of the mariachi bands we listen to in town. 6. If I buy your album, would you talk to me sometime in the future over the phone? I am not a journalist – I promise. Not sure what you mean by this. We do do phone interviews with journalists. We don't answer the phone much other than that. Thank you. The artwork is great too. Thanks Jim. xo Rennie
A perfect song in every way. Don’t be a bummer – buy the song and/or the album. Support independent artists!
I put a link to their web. Stop what you’re doing and go there. Ok? ok.