Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Guided Tour of Ten: Oceans

[A Guided Tour of Ten]
At first Oceans feels a bit out of place on Ten, given the general darkness that surrounds most of the other tracks, but it is still addressing the same themes, albeit from a slightly different angle. Most of the album is about betrayal, but Oceans is about trust, the opposite side of the same coin. Its placement is also perfect as Porch will address a number of these themes, but in the midst of crisis, so the two play off each other nicely.

Oceans is a love song, dealing with the fear and uncertainty that surrounds love, the need for trust and the way it makes you vulnerable. Eddie is one of the few writers out there who really understands that any love wants to survive must be grounded in trust, and that it needs to be strong enough to resist the ways life is constantly trying to undermine it. In Oceans the threat comes from distance, but the distance is a metaphor—any kind of stress and uncertainty will do. Oceans is a promise, assuring us that love is worth enduring what needs to be endured, that it will be worth it in the end. It's a reminder of how precious and fragile love is, and how important it is that we remember that. The song is a plea for faithfulness, and there is an urgent fragility to Eddie's vocals here, especially on the ohhhhhs after each verse. Eddie's vocals are extremely powerful to the point of overwhelming the song on many of the tracks on Ten, but that isn’t the case here. There is doubt and insecurity softening it. He knows exactly what he wants and asks for it with force, but he is also all too aware of how difficult it will be to hold onto, and how lost he will be without it (as the previous songs have all made very clear), and it makes him nervous and tenuous while he is trying to be assertive. It creates the tension that propels the song along.

As usual the music does a terrific job conveying the mood (I'm not sure any of the records do this as well as Ten). It is warm and gentle, but with a sense of motion and instability to it, moments of calm battered about by currents that are largely beyond the control of the people adrift. It is supposed to sound like rolling waves, and it does. Close your eyes and you can picture two people standing on distant shores, looking out over the water towards where they know the other one is, reminding themselves that even though separation is a trial, it is one that needs to be endured because what will be otherwise lost is far too precious to abandon.

Even Flow 
Why Go 

No Code 
Riot Act 
Pearl Jam