Song of the Day #1,637: ‘Simple Song’ – The Shins

port_of_morrowTop Songs of 2012 – #2

My second favorite song of the year comes from my second favorite album, The Shins’ Port of Morrow. Singer/songwriter James Mercer outdid himself on this album, shedding the backing musicians who’d accompanied him on the previous Shins albums then crafting the band’s best work yet.

Though Port of Morrow‘s songs run the gamut content-wise, its finest moment belongs to the most old-fashioned topic of all — the love song.

‘Simple Song’ is the sweetest and most life-affirming love song I’ve heard in ages. Mercer’s falsetto vocals in the chorus call to mind The Beach Boys, while the song’s big drum opening recalls ‘Be My Baby,’ and it earns the comparison to those classics.

Mercer is an evocative lyricist, comparing his wife (for whom this track was written) to “an ocean made warm by the sun” and testifying to the power of their union by declaring “could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical as this little home.”

The song’s most powerful lines come at the finish: “Love’s such a delicate thing that we do with nothing to prove… which I never knew.” Those last few words are the key. She taught him how to love — it’s just as profound, and as simple, as that.

Well this is just a simple song
To say what you done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean
Made warm by the sun

When I was just nine years old
I swear that I dreamt
Your face on a football field
And a kiss that I kept
Under my vest
Apart from everything but the heart in my chest

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough and play like a stone
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical
As this little home

My life in an upturned boat, marooned on a cliff
You brought me a great big flood
And you gave me a lift
Girl, what a gift
You tell me with your tongue
And your breath was in my lungs
And we float up over the rift

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough and play like a stone
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical
As this little home

Well this will be a simple song
To say what you’ve done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean
Made warm by the sun

Remember walking a mile to your house
A glow in the dark
I made a fumbling play for your heart
And the act struck a spark
You wore a charm in a chain
That I stole especially for you
Love’s such a delicate thing that we do
With nothing to prove
Which I never knew

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,637: ‘Simple Song’ – The Shins

  1. Dana says:

    I’m familiar with this through radio play. It’s a good one. I confess i havent explored the rest of the album yet, but this reminds me that I need to.

  2. Amy says:

    Wow; what a special, simple song this is. I just love the line about nothing being more critical than their little home. I’m pretty sure I bought this album for Dana for some holiday or other, yet I clearly haven’t listened to it enough. Can’t get past the constant rotation of Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift, I guess (punctuated by radio and Counting Crows, of course). I’m going to have to go dig this album out and give it a listen.

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