First off, I should acknowledge that sharing this song kind of makes me an asshole. “Tightrope” was recently released as a special track for the charity compilation Dark Was The Night, which aims to raise money for AIDS awareness. I listened to it for the first time today and it’s very, very good, and I highly suggest killing two birds with one stone and purchasing a fantastic double album/donating to charity. I know it’s recession times and all (oh do I ever know), but at least it’s a doubly-justifiable purchase, no?
That said – holy shit! Yeasayer! “Tightrope”! YES! I may or may not have listened to this on repeat this morning. (I did.)
According to the Pitchfork: TV video I’ve shared below, Yeasayer had planned to use “Tightrope” as the single for their new album (!!! which I assume is done or mostly done since their recording blog lately is just hilarious picture montages, declaring things like sexy friday), but gave it to the Dark Was The Night people. (Not sure if that means it’ll still be the album single, but it still should be.) Such good dudes, those Yeasayer dudes. There’s a reason I chose them as one of the bands I’d most like to hang out with. Seriously, guys, if you’re out there, hit a girl up, I’ll buy you some beers!
Yeasayer: “Tightrope” (download)
If you’ve read this blog with any consistancy, you’ll know that Yeasayer has been a T-Sides fave since All Hour Cymbals was released in 2007. I have listened to All Hour Cymbals on a highly regular basis since then, and saw them a whopping four times last year, each one amazing.
“Tightrope” is not just one of Yeasayer’s best songs (which already says a lot), it’s just one of the best songs in general. I know, I know, I’m a blogger and therefore occasionally prone to hyperbole, but seriously, if you thought/think “2080” was a serious jam – and it is – “Tightrope” tops it.
“Tightrope” has been a fan favorite for the year or so that the band’s been playing it at live shows. All of the band’s unrecorded/new material has a surprisingly triumphant feel to it, in wild contrast with the doomsday-esque themes of All Hour Cymbals, and “Tightrope” is no exception, though it’s more challenge than victory lap.
It’s a simple song for Yeasayer, easily stripped of a lot of the electrical pyrotechnics that accompany most of their catalog (though it’s just as strong even when they’re there), flaunting Yeasayer’s pure ability to craft an enticing melody. With “Tightrope” they’ve made a song with the instant appeal of a pop tune, but without it really being a pop tune. The opening 15 second repeat of the melody is replayable on its own, evidenced by the fact that front-man Chris Keating almost waits an entire minute before entering with the stately inquiry, “So, you’re wishing that you never did all the embarrassing things you’ve done?” Writers talk about not wanting to waste words, and Yeasayer wastes nothing, from handclaps to hushed talking during the last few seconds. “Tightrope” is a perfect length, just enough to leave us wanting more, cliche as that may be.
For reasons only somewhat unbeknownst to me, my personal favorite part of the song comes when Keating dares his subject, “If you wanna get it big time, go ahead and get it, get it big time.” Here’s to thinking this song will probably help Yeasayer get it big time.
To see videos of some different takes on “Tightrope,” click the jump.
Yeasayer playing another super stripped version of “Tightrope” for Takeaway shows (Note: “2080” is first, so if you’re inexplicably sick of that song, jump to the 6:05 mark).
Yeasayer playing a live version of “Tightrope” at the Echoplex in LA last January.