Last year around this time, the MP3 blogosphere was abuzz with news that Okkervil River had just released a new album-length collection of covers and live recordings for free, only on the band's website. I'm never one to sneer at things that are free, and so I downloaded it. And listened to it, over and over again.
I'm not a traditional music customer, as a quick perusal of this blog will certainly show, but this worked on me. (Don't believe me? Click on Okkervil River's tag at the bottom of this post.) Since that time, I've seen the band live and own copies of every single CD they've put out. The songs have crept into my soul, and this song I'm posting today has made my cry virtually every time I've heard it. (Hence its place in my Depressing Little Christmas mix, which I'm posting here on the 21st.)
This song is so tender, so explicitly rooted in personal existence and loss that the Otis Redding quote doesn't feel like a cheat at all. Rather, it feels like something that Otis Redding, were he still alive, would send a letter to the band thanking them for. The song gives us two or three details about home, about the relationship, and a quote from that song you listen to and cry and think about the breakup, and we fill in the rest of the story from our own lives.
This song is in two of my "playlists": It's in my Christmas playlist, and my Okkervil River playlist, which means in the last twelve months I've heard it probably two dozen times. Last week, I was listening to it, preparing to get misty, and ... I didn't anymore. This post is a thank-you to Will Sheff and the Okkervil River boys, yes, but more than that it's a thank-you to Tiki. Our relationship is still new and hobbling around on its little-deer legs: there's nothing formalized or set in stone about it, and the future holds nothing but surprises for us. But that doesn't matter: you've kept me from crying when I listen to this song, and that's the best Christmas present I'll get all year.