Song of the Week: “Maple Leaves” by Jens Lekman
This song follows me from November to mid-February. California’s winter is really autumn, a season that misunderstands itself as much as Lekman’s speaker misunderstands his lover. Sunlight persists, a wan, desperate gold if not overcast into glacial blue. There’s a taste of frost but everything is only damp. Seeking warmer climates or oblivion, a bird flies into your window and gives itself a concussion.
This is the winking, openly melodramatic universe that Jens Lekman’s work inhabits, and it is exemplified nowhere better than in “Maple Leaves.” Flutes, strings, and holiday-reminiscent bells and chorals make up another of Lekman’s customary sampled-together soundscapes that reliably mix wry nostalgia, self-deprecating reflection, and unapologetic sentiment. However, it’s the central joke of the song that perfectly encapsulates the fleeting, repurposed familiarity that makes Lekman’s songs so inescapably catchy and surprisingly, even more inescapably moving: “She said it was all make-believe / but I thought she said maple leaves.”
-Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel
Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel lives in Oakland, California, and holds an MFA in Poetry from St. Mary’s College. She and Bryn Garrehy curate the Underpass Reading Series at Bica Coffeehouse in Oakland. Gillian also co-publishes speCt!, a chapbook series and book arts imprint, with Peter Burghardt and Robert Andrew Perez. She is a poetry editor for Omnidawn Publishing and managing editor of OmniVerse.
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