Friday, December 2, 2011

Song #36 of 9999 - Letter From an Occupant by The New Pornographers

Song #36 of 9999

Title: Letter From an Occupant
Artist: The New Pornographers
Year: 2000
Album: Mass Romantic

Yesterday, I talked about the harmonic progression in The Cowsills' "The Rain, The Park & Other Things," specifically about the avoidance of the tonic chord. In that case, both the verse and the chorus begin on the minor ii chord, which kind of masks the song's major key. This got me thinking about other songs that begin main sections of the song, especially the chorus, on a chord other than the tonic.

Which led me to today's track. There's certainly no shortage of the I chord in the verse that opens The New Pornographers' first hit. It's pretty much right in your face for most of the opening minute. But the chorus begins on a IV chord that, coupled with Neko Case's wail and the sudden change in drumming, really propels the song forward. (I should state for the record that it's really not all that uncommon for choruses to start on chords other than the tonic--I just think it works particularly well here.) The song could have easily ended at 2:35, but the band pushes it into overdrive for a second bridge that lifts the song to a new power pop level. It's so powerful, in fact, that I think they should have just faded at 3:13 instead of going back to the chorus. But they didn't ask me. :D

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