Category Archives: The Annotated Decemberists

The Annotated Decemberists No. 12: “Cocoon”

The lyrics are impressionistic, aside from a clear, early reference to the victims of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius—a tragedy that may or may not keep coming up throughout the song and may or may not serve as a stand-in for the tragedy of 9/11. Who knows? The meaning of a dream is rarely overt. More likely, you’re left with just the feelings it inspired—and everyone you describe it to is going to have a different interpretation. Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 11: Odalisque

Now, my knowledge of firearms is limited at best, but I do know this: You load shotgun cartridges with rock salt, not rifles. (At least I’m pretty sure, based on 30 minutes of research and a few Tarantino movies.) Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 10: “A Cautionary Song”

Perhaps no band’s lyrics better lend themselves to pseudo-academic analysis than those of The Decemberists. The Annotated Decemberists is an attempt to puzzle through the Portland, Oregon, group’s entire catalog song by song—examining all the obscure vocabulary, historical references and poetic subtext—or … Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 9: “July, July!”

Perhaps no band’s lyrics better lend themselves to pseudo-academic analysis than those of The Decemberists. The Annotated Decemberists is an attempt to puzzle through the Portland, Oregon, group’s entire catalog song by song—examining all the obscure vocabulary, historical references and poetic subtext—or … Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 8: “Here I Dreamt I was an Architect”

Perhaps no band’s lyrics better lend themselves to pseudo-academic analysis than those of The Decemberists. The Annotated Decemberists is an attempt to puzzle through the Portland, Oregon, group’s entire catalog song by song—examining all the obscure vocabulary, historical references and poetic subtext—or … Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 7: “Leslie Anne Levine”

Perhaps no band’s lyrics better lend themselves to pseudo-academic analysis than those of The Decemberists. The Annotated Decemberists is an attempt to puzzle through the Portland, Oregon, group’s entire catalog song by song—examining all the obscure vocabulary, historical references and poetic subtext—or … Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 6: “The Apology Song”

The sixth and final entry from The Decemberists’ debut EP, Five Songs. Yes, you read that right. There are six songs on Five Songs. Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 5: “I Don’t Mind”

It sure sounds to me like this verse describes an elderly, infirm woman being abandoned in the woods. It also seems reminiscent of a folk tale, though I can’t point to a specific example. Folklore is rife with descriptions of euthanasia and geronticide, however, as this academic review makes clear Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 4: “Angel, Won’t You Call Me?”

The narrator’s relationship to this “Angel” is not explained in detail and therefore left open to interpretation, but basically we have a fairly straightforward musical love letter—albeit one couched in plenty of self-deprecation. Continue reading

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The Annotated Decemberists No. 3: “My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist”

As related to Sean Nelson for a detailed article in the Seattle alt-weekly paper The Stranger, “My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist” was inspired by a particularly awful family canoe trip. Continue reading

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