The Gardener

I love keeping up with La Blogotheque‘s Take-Away shows.  A staple among music hipsters, the popular blog invites new artists to play in obscure public locations (city streets, open parks, busy bars, elevator shafts, etc.) while being filmed.  The videos are not edited in hopes of capturing those unique live moments that any music lover lives for.  As the blog states, “the music gets filmed just like it happens, without preparation, without tricks.”

The site has filmed sessions for several of my favorite artists and one of their latest releases continues that trend.  I’ve been a big fan of The Tallest Man On Earth since first hearing his debut Shallow Grave last year. Before watching, I recommend reading La Blogotheque’s explanation on the shooting location used in New York:

Kristian Matsson was in NYC to play a few shows during a stretch of nasty weather. We got together one rainy afternoon to raid some downtown spot to make a film.  One catch: after soundcheck the day before, Tallest Man’s guitars were locked inside the NYC music venue, Town Hall, where he’d be playing later that night with Bon Iver. Solution: we’d have to shoot somewhere with a decent supply of guitars that he might borrow. A fan of music of all kinds, Jeff, the awesome, museum-quality proprietor of the legendary Music Inn on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village was happy to oblige. The staff took refuge downstairs, where they ripped through some take-out tacos while the Swedish guy played songs from his debut Shallow Grave. The Tallest Man, who inevitably gets talked about in terms of Dylan apparently had no idea he was playing just three doors down from where Dylan actually lived and just around the corner from where the cover photo of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was shot.

“The Gardener” is by far my favorite track on the record, as the lyrics remind me of my younger self from a relationship standpoint. If you take the song literally, the narrator feels that certain oppositions are out to prevent him from being with his lover.  Each verse, he senses a new threat, which ultimately results in that opposition “fertilizing the roses” or getting “buried by the lilies.”

I love how the different threats are open for interpretation.  Are these slain messengers the narrator’s internal flaws that he hopes to hide from his girl, competing suitors, or something completely different?  As all great songs are capable of accomplishing, its meaning can be whatever you want it to be.

Successfully managing to concurrently be creepy and sweet at the same time, the song alludes to how love is something that takes time and effort to maintain.  The narrator wants his lover’s trust, but does so by ultimately lying.  In hopes of being the tallest man in the eyes of his lady, the protagonist becomes a killer.

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I haven’t decided how to interpret the last verse.  On the surface, the narrator appears to get pleasure out of the fact that he no longer has any opposition.  The couple dance among all the buried threats in a now hefty-sized garden.  Is it better to hide the truth in favor of a more pleasurable relationship built on dishonesty?  All actions were presumably done with the intention of staying with the damsel being fallen for.  The narrator finds it soothing, but he’s afraid.  He claims there is no need for suspicion, but I’d like to hear a follow up a few years down the road…

As Christina can attest, I’d personally advise against ever attempting to build a relationship’s foundation on anything other than love and transparency.  Lies and jealousy will only allow you to get so far.  After years of working through our seemingly never-ending long distance relationship, I feel that “The Gardener” perfectly captures some of the major themes any couple will likely encounter over the course of their development together.

On a related note, I’m really pumped about the sweet Tallest Man On Earth print I picked up at Record Store Day last weekend.  I’m running out of wall space, but it was definitely worth the discounted $10 price.  If you like what you see, I suggest you check out some of the other cool designs Boss Construction has made recently.

One Response to “The Gardener”

  1. cbgb Says:

    i watched that video for the 4th time…sweet.

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