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Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Little Bear"

Guillemots - Little Bear (2006)

"...a very brave way to open an album..." - Sir Paul McCartney


I can't find an embeddable link to the full album version off this song. Youtube, dailymotion and others do not have the full song anywhere, embeddable or not. This link to tudou.com is the full version.


The first track off of their debut album Through the Windowpane, this UK based indie band had already released a few EPs and had a tour under their belts as the supporting act for Rufus Wainwright. You don't actually hear any of the band until over ninety seconds into this track. A beautiful lush string section starts the piece off, first with almost horror or thriller-esque high pitched screeching violins, then mellowing out into more standard bowed violins and violas. There are pizzicato cello and base notes, possibly some off which are played by double bass playing band member Aristazbal Hawkes but there is no way to know. Fyfe Dangerfield begins playing his oddly occasionally discordant piano and singing to his "little bear". The final fifty five seconds or so is back to just piano and string accompaniment. The very end has the orchestra collectively "powering down" using a glissando technique downward. You can't really say for sure if any of the other band members other than Dangerfield are on this track. Live, guitarist MC Lord Magrão plays theremin, and drummer Greig Stewart plays wind chimes and cymbal.

Lyrically the song is painfully about loss, but loss of love, or of self, or of mind? Is the singer talking to a lover or child with a pet name? Possibly he could be speaking to the beloved children's book character? I could easily hear the song as a grown up, talking to the inner child in his mind using the name his mother called him. Whatever way you interpret the song, it's not one you will easily forget.

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