How do you begin to write a review on someone’s articulation of the worst time in their life? Phillip Elverum wrote “A Crow Looked at Me” to cope, not to please, yet it is still one of the most sobering pieces of art.
Content warning for language.
When I first heard “A Crow Looked at Me” by Mount Eerie, I listened to it all the way through, as everyone should. Would you interrupt a person who is venting their tragic life to you because their pain is putting a damper on your day? I’d hope not, but people surprise me more and more, and investing time and emotion into others seems to be a challenge for (in)humanity.
Phillip Elverum lost his wife. He lost her to pancreatic cancer in July of 2016, leaving him with one daughter.
He tweeted: Time is a flat circle and there is only the complicated now but still I scream “fuck you” at the grave of 2016, for personal reasons.
The album, “A Crow Looked At Me,” is initially numbing. His voice is melancholy and the topic of the album is not hard to decipher. It starts off with Real Death, and for being the first track, it’s the hardest to get through. He takes you through very specific memories, and you feel like a ghost standing next to him at every heartbroken landmark.
At one point he sings about receiving a package at the front door, opening it, and realizing his wife had ordered a backpack for his daughter without telling him. “You were thinking ahead to a future you must have known deep down would not include you. Though you clawed at the cliff you were sliding down being swallowed into a silence that is bottomless and real.”
How do you begin to write a review on someone’s articulation of the worst time in their life? He wrote this to cope, not to please, yet it is still one of the most sobering pieces of art.
He recounts on the plans they had and uses blunt terms to explain why those plans fell through. As he said earlier, “when real death enters the house, all poetry is dumb.” In the song Seaweed, he takes us to the beach where he questions finding meaning behind moments and things that would under other circumstances seem meaningless.
Did “A Crow Looked at Me” help him? Or did it just torturously reinforce the reality of this tragedy on an infinite loop? Though for sure his daughter feels Geneviéve’s absence, how will she react once she reaches full understanding?
As a listener, have empathy and appreciate the complicated now.
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