Song of the Week: “Baby Birch” by Joanna Newsom

“Baby Birch” is about sadness and delayed gratification. There has been a lot of discussion about Newsom’s lyrics, but for me the joy in this song is primarily musical. I love that the song doesn’t really pick up until more than six minutes in. You have to be patient. For the first half you might think that it will continue its repetitive yet meandering melody. Soft vocals and spare harp. There are moments of near take off, when Newsom’s fingers speed up and waltz along the harp strings, but then we’re brought back to where we started. Finally the occasional electric guitar chord. Then hands clapping and snare drum. Then back-up singers. Louder and faster and fuller. Like Dorothy opening her front door after the tornado and seeing the world in color. The outro is 90 seconds of luxurious instrumentation. As if words were never really the point.

-Lily Ladewig

Lily Ladewig’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Conduit, Denver Quarterly, H_NGM_N, Salt Hill, Sixth Finch, and SUPERMACHINE. With Anne Cecelia Holmes, she is a coauthor of the e-chapbook I Am A Natural Wonder (Blue Hour Press, 2011). Her first full-length book, The Silhouettes, will be published by SpringGun Press in 2012.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints?  Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.


see all songs of the week here.