Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Song #374 of 9999 - Cruelty to Animals by Pernice Brothers

Song #374 of 9999

Title: Cruelty to Animals
Artist: Pernice Brothers
Year: 2006
Album: Live a Little

After reflecting on the lyric to Joe Pernice's "Cruelty to Animals," I considered just pasting it into this space in its entirety and walking away. It's a stunning piece of creative writing that doesn't need the ramblings of one lunatic in Lancaster to validate its worth. Consider the opening stanzas:
She won't mind if the place we stand is marked by ash.
She believes what doesn't kill her only takes more time to kill her.
Then she smiles as she paints her lips and does her lashes.
Stunning as a taxidermy victim in a silver cage
I'm arrested by an aria brought from the country.
Stuck in dumb amazement like a dog who's told to levitate.
This smash number-one goes to her lover in the belfry,
Singing like a bird in flames and headed for the window pane.
Holy similes! These aren't your grandmother's lyrics!! Or are they? Later, Pernice let's the cat out of the bag (it's probably dead already) by revealing the song is a play on the French Canadian children's song "Alouette," which describes the slow retributive plucking of each and every feather from the body of a lark who sings his song a bit too early outside the wrong window.
Alouette, gentille alouette.
Head to toe so thoroughly until we're both dismembered.
Alouette, gentille alouette.
Naïve, yes, but none the worse, spinning glue back into horses.
I'll never leave the place where you are.
Who or what is the song really about? Don't know and not sure I need to. With lyrics this dazzling, I'm happy just to see and hear the words placed next to one another or, better yet, assembled into yet another crisp chamber pop offering from an undersung artist.

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