Wolf Parade's Debut 10 Years Later

Weekly Sonic Musings: Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

I couldn’t name all of the members of Wolf Parade. I don’t know which instrument(s) each member plays, where they’re from, if they’ve been involved in some recent controversy or what have you. I also couldn’t speak to anything even remotely technical about how the music was created. I know I could research all of those things, but I’m not going to do that. (Better just to be honest about these things.) I realize that in a lot of ways, I have no business starting a blog series about sound and/or music because I'm certainly not an expert in any real way. It's just something I have always loved. 

To explain myself, I am a poet, so I have to approach it that way. I don’t think it is my job as a poet to relate facts and details to you; that is fodder for a different kind of writer. One of my favorite Jack Spicer poems ends “I'm lonelier than you are now (or will be)/October something 1956,” and earlier in the same poem he writes, “English majors/can discover the correct date” and "Will it ever matter again/whether it is October 2nd or October 3rd?" There is so much underneath those words. I am fascinated by the emotional and intuitive landscapes that can be created within the world of a song or an album or a poem. How personal those landscapes can be. How they change over time. How they can help you remember your life. Music gets in my blood and stays there, and I know I’m not the only one. 

 When I first heard Wolf Parade’s debut album I was in college and the song, “I’ll Believe in Anything” made the most sense to me. The song is wistful, a little sad, but also kind of funny. It’s mocking one’s own naiveté. Looking back, I think it resonated with me because I was preparing myself to graduate and go out into the world as an artist (a difficult path unless you’re independently wealthy). I wanted to believe that the world wouldn’t be as harsh as we were told to expect. I wanted to believe that I would find another artistic community that could rival the one I was leaving (1). I wanted to believe that I wasn’t completely full of shit (spoiler: I was, completely. still am, maybe less so).

Listening to this album 10 years later, the song that strikes me most is “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts.” It’s angrier. More neurotic. It’s rougher around the edges. It feels like when you keep going, even though nothing worked out the way you planned; you keep going because you don’t have a choice. So, it’s about failing. Or maybe letting go of the old dreams. Or just letting go. Or some variation on all of these ideas. Or not. I mean, I suspect there must be some truth here somewhere. But who am I to claim to know what truth is. (I think it's about that, too.)

till next time--

(1) It might be worth noting that The Appleton School, as we jokingly called it (after The New York School), is still the most nurturing artistic community I’ve ever been a part of: Bryan Teoh, Erik Schoster, Nissa Syverson, Justine Reimnitz, Kelly Shaw Willman, Sandi Schwert, Paul Feyertag, and a few others (I’m sorry if I’ve missed you). I owe you big time.