Song of the Day #358: ‘Climbing Up the Walls’ – Sarah Slean

sarahsleanI’m an album person, to a fault. Sometimes I’ll buy a whole album because I like one or two songs and allow it to occupy precious space in my collection as essentially a bloated CD single. Other times I won’t buy a CD despite loving a song or two because I want to avoid the above scenario.

What I haven’t done, to this point, is just buy the songs I like on iTunes. The primary reason for this is that I do almost all of my music listening in the car and I don’t have an effective way to play MP3s on that stereo system. I suppose I could download songs and burn them to mix CDs but that seems like more trouble than its worth (it isn’t, I know, but it seems that way).

I mention this because there are exceptions, and the exceptions are generally pretty interesting. Most of them are songs I happened upon in the Napster days when it didn’t require a 99 cent commitment to call a song my own.

Many are evocative cover versions of great songs, such as a slow burning acoustic version of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ by Gus that I had forgotten about until just this second. It’s really good… I’ll have to put it on the blog sometime soon. Incidentally, Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ and ‘Burnin’ For You’ are two other individual songs I’ve downloaded (at Alex’s request).

Today’s track is a gorgeous cover of Radiohead’s ‘Climbing Up the Walls’ by Sarah Slean that I downloaded years ago. It was mis-labeled as a Sarah McLachlan song and that made sense to me because their voices are nearly identical. It was awhile later that I learned this track appears on Sarah Slean’s 1998 album Universe, and no, I don’t have any idea who Sarah Slean is.

I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps your toys in the basement
And if you get too far inside
You’ll only see my reflection

It’s always best when the covers up
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we’re friends till we die

And either way you turn
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there
Climbing up the walls

It’s always best when the light is off
It’s always better on the outside
Fifteen blows to the back of your head
Fifteen blows to your mind

So lock the kids up safe tonight
Shut the eyes in the cupboard
I’ve got the smell of a local man
Who’s got the loneliest fear

That either way you turn
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there

Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls

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5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #358: ‘Climbing Up the Walls’ – Sarah Slean

  1. Kerrie says:

    You’re not kidding she sounds like Sarah McLachlan. Wow – it’s uncanny! I don’t mind this song, per se, but it’s nothing I would want to listen to frequently. It’s so dark and thick, like walking through mud.

    Incidentally, I am the type to buy one or two songs from an artist on iTunes rather than commiting to a whole album in any format. We’re fortunate that our Subaru has a plug for the iPod, but you can get a car converter pretty inexpensively if burning a cd is what’s stopping you from going down the one song at a time path. I’d be surprised if you didn’t know that, so I’m guessing it’s really your love of owning full albums that keeps you buying them – even if they take up precious space on the shelf…

  2. Clay says:

    I think I might slowly change my ways if I had an iPod plug in my radio. I’ve tried the converters that work off a radio frequency I’ve always found the sound lacking. But yeah, it’s mostly about my love of full albums.

  3. Clay says:

    And I like that walking through mud analogy… I definitely see that. I find this is a good song for those times when you want to take a stroll through some mud. :-)

  4. Amy says:

    As I’m playing the song, Dana just walked by and said “he’s going back to Fiona” (Apple). When I told him this was some Sarah Sleane person, he said, “well, she’s a blatant copy of Fiona Apple.” So… maybe she’s Sarah McLachlan meets Fiona Apple? I like her voice, though the music is thick (thus the mud analogy :) Can’t say this would be the type of song I’d break my CD buying rule to buy, but hey – to each his own ;)

  5. Dana says:

    It’s really a Fiona piano style with a Sarah voice.

    I find it amusing that Clay finds burning a CD of favorite songs more trouble than it’s worth, but steadfastly uploading a song of the day every day for a year, and blogging about each song, is no trouble at all:)

    I think the aversion to the single is really as much about old habits as anything else, as well as the fact that you very much appreciate an artist who puts out a whole work like an album. For many a great artist, an album is meant to be heard as a whole, with the order of songs carefully selected, either to tell a story or achieve some kind of musical arc or journey. Obvious examples, of course, include Sgt Peppers, Abbey Road, The Nylon Curtain, Watertown, Night and Day and King of America. Then again, there are more modern artists, those who grew up in the age of the mp3 and Itunes, whose albums are just a collection of singles. For those artists, I really don’t think it matters a lick whether you buy the album, unless, of course, you like enough of the singles to justify buying the album.

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