#104 – “Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth” (2007)

The Else
A.S.: And we finally hit an Else track.
L.K.: Took us long enough. But hey, it’s 13 tracks out of several hundred, so theoretically it could’ve taken even longer.
A.S.: Yep, in theory they could have all just been crammed in at the end, which would have been weird. That said, this certainly isn’t my favorite song from the album by any means.
L.K.: Yeah, I am not a fan of it either.
A.S.: It feels like we have the opposite problem of yesterday’s song – the arrangement on this one is fantastic. The horns sound excellent, especially in the instrumental break, and the stylophone is a nice touch.
L.K.: I always thought the song seemed kind of plodding and meandering without really going anywhere. The lyrics are also too stupid for their own good.
A.S.: Yeah, more syllable filling.
L.K.: “Bugness”.
A.S.: I get the general idea of it all, creatures wanting or being demanded to be other creatures, but some of the lyrics themselves are a little clumsy.
L.K.: I mean, “Birdhouse In Your Soul” was syllable-filling about silly subject matter, but that song transcended its dated production. I don’t think “Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth” will be fondly remembered by anyone 20 years from now.
A.S.: The monotonous melody line in parts of the verses. The chorus is fine, again, the part that the horns play really brightly in the instrumental break.
L.K.: The whole song just plods around in a circle and you wait for something really new or interesting or exciting to happen… and then it never happens.
A.S.: There’s definitely a climax – the “Is it us or it that’s messed up” line.
L.K.: The climax is still a total anticlimax though, just because the song is so dull. I think this is the first TMBG song I remember being really bored with.
A.S.: The first?
L.K.: I think so! It’s hard to tell. The Else is the first album I heard as a “new” album at the time it came out.
A.S.: Right, so you weren’t 100% familiar with the back catalogue at the time.
L.K.: I mean, I had The Spine in 2005 or 2006 because my dad never bought it when it actually came out, and I had Mink Car but didn’t get around to listening to all of it until later. I bought The Else myself at a Borders bookstore though, bonus disc and everything.
A.S.: Ah.
L.K.: I remember when the first songs from it debuted online, which is more than I could say for any previous album.
A.S.: Yeah, see I wasn’t even a fan at that point, although The Else was fairly new when I was getting into the band.
L.K.: It was the first album I ever first heard as a whole entity when it was brand-new, so the things that were boring to me then really stuck out to me.
A.S.: Gotcha.
L.K.: And yeah, this was one of those songs where you always skip it when listening to the CD. (Remember those?)
A.S.: Oh of course. Sometimes these perceptions change of course – “Hearing Aid” for a while went through one ear and out the other, then I got into no wave and revisited it later on, learning that Arto Lindsay’s playing the guitar solo at the end and the song gained a totally new life. But “Bee of the Bird of the Moth” – eh, not so much. I guess the song is inspired by one of Jonathan Lethem’s “Promiscuous Songs”, “Moth of the Bee of the Birds”, which also has pretty stupid lyrics.
L.K.: I mean, it’s also just inspired by an actual birds, bees, and moths that resemble each other. You know, I’m going back and doing a CLOSE READING of these lyrics and they are even dumber than I remembered.
A.S.: Folks, let it be known, John Linnell is not infallible.
L.K.: As someone who appreciates old-school songwriting, I usually love songs that actually rhyme, but here it’s just painful. It’s meaningless without even sounding nice. I mean, “Wearing A Raincoat” has pointless lyrics but there’s something about the production that is interesting enough to hold my attention.
A.S.: “Wearing A Raincoat” is a surprisingly gorgeous song.
L.K.: Or just little things like those couple of bars in a different time signature.
A.S.: Yes. That is the best part. That part kills me.
L.K.: It is another slow-ish, nonsensical Linnell song, but to me, it is executed miles beyond this one.
A.S.: Actually, funny you should mention that one because “Wearing A Raincoat” was another song that took a while to stand out for me.
L.K.: I think The Spine in general took me a while to appreciate, but years later I am going back to it and enjoying it more. The Else, on the other hand, seems to weaken with time. (I have to say, as we near Join Us‘s first birthday, my opinion of that album is pretty low again…)
A.S.: Personally, I like to combine Join Us and the new material on Album Raises to make one big 70-minute long album and I think it works a bit better as that.
L.K.: Double-album!
A.S.: I mean, there are standout tracks on everything the band’s put out, I sincerely mean that.  I guess just fewer per LP than Lincoln or John Henry or whatever. But looking at other artists who have been around for 30 years or more – even the best ones have put out a number of albums that were total duds. So the Johns deserve praise for being consistently great, if not necessarily consistently perfect.
L.K.: Well I mean, there were just fewer tracks on The Else and Factory Showroom in general, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the expectations for each individual song to be higher.
A.S.:  True. Again, you mentioned the extra disc for The Else – maybe if some of the better Podcast songs wound up on the album, it would have made it stronger.
L.K.: Heck, even some of the podcast songs that didn’t make it to that bonus disc!
A.S.: Yep!
L.K.: The same old problem that keeps re-emerging with TMBG–too much excellent non-album material.
A.S.: Yep. So even if the albums from a given era are weak, the entire creative output of said era is probably quite strong, which again, is far better than you can say about most other bands and is why we’re doing this dumb blog. Now hopefully we can hit a couple more songs we actually really like, preferably starting tomorrow.
L.K.: Yeah, I am sure you readers are tired of just listening to us complain.
A.S.: We need another killer streak like we had in the nascent days of this site.
3 Responses to “#104 – “Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth” (2007)”
  1. Katina says:

    You do know that this song is sort of about the hummingbird moth, right?

  2. Kate says:

    I don’t think there’s any one tmbg album that I really dislike. Some of them have songs I prefer to skip over, but as a whole, I think I like all the albums. I do agree that this song is kinda boring – particularly the lyrics – and definitely doesn’t represent The Else well. There are some truly great songs on there.

    Oh, by the way, if you guys were still wondering about the Johnny cup from Stormy Pinkness, I asked my dad if he had ever heard the term before. He grew up around Boston and would’ve known if it’s a Boston thing, but he said he had no idea what it meant. So I don’t know where it came from, but I don’t think it was Boston.

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