My Favorite Song At This Time Last Year | What You Say Is Way Too Complicated

31 Jul | 30 days of music / art / music / personal | 2 comments

Like a lot of people, I first heard Phoenix in that party scene from Lost In Translation, the one that’s burned in my memory, the cinematic party I may as well have been a part of, so strongly do I remember it from dozens upon dozens of viewings.

I always smiled when I heard “Too Young”, on the soundtrack, on shuffle, in life. I didn’t explore further, though; their CD was $18 and I couldn’t find much for, um, inexpensive download.

A couple years later, out of the blue, my brother sent me a random track over instant message, as he is wont to do. I listened, and I loved, and it was “If I Ever Feel Better”.

The $18 suddenly didn’t seem like such a great expense.

I got to know United very, very well. It’s like an old friend at this point, always around. I know their second and third records less well, but I’ve always been aware, always kept tabs. So it stands to reason that I was pretty pumped when everyone started saying their name in advance of the release of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

They played Saturday Night Live, and went on tour. When I saw they were coming to New York, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets. As with such things, the tickets got clipped to the refrigerator like a good report card when they showed up in the mail.

A few weeks later, we threw a party. At this party was the boyfriend of the friend of a friend. I’d never met him before. I’ve never met him since. I’m not especially sad about that.

He asked if he could put some music on, and we acquiesced. He pushed play and came over, solid and sure in his rock and roll credibility.

“You’ve probably never heard of these guys.”

“This is Phoenix, right?”

A beat of silence, superiority punctured. “You’ve heard of them?”

I pointed a thumb over my shoulder, at the concert tickets hanging on the metal door. It went rather exactly as I would have written it, were I writing it as a scene.

I think awkward silences are hilarious.

So, “1901”. I was obviously predisposed to like it, and in many ways that’s half the battle when it comes to most people’s musical taste. Then again, the fact that it is really, really super great doesn’t hurt anything.

It’s not just my favorite song of this time last year; it’s my favorite song of 2009 period, the song that made me think to myself as I walked down the street, “Phoenix, you are putting on a great audition to be the soundtrack of my life.”

I could do much worse.


  1. leah

    “clipped to the refrigerator like a good report card.” you are such a good writer. you ruin it for all us wannabes. fun month of reads bowline!