Song of the Day #55: ‘Phantom Limb’ – The Shins

The Shins will probably forever be known as the band Natalie Portman, in the film Garden State, claimed would “change your life.” Just the thought of somebody as irresistibly adorable as Portman flirting with you in a doctor’s office and sharing a “moment” over music is pretty great.

There’s a reason writer-director-star Zach Braff chose The Shins for that scene, and a couple others, in his Gen-X pseudo-masterpiece. Their music is quaint, weird and other-worldly in a way that makes moments like that seem possible. Does it change your life? I’d argue that no song can, but it can sure make your life feel a little brighter for awhile.

I find a lot to love on The Shins’ first two albums, Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow. But for my money, they hit their peak (so far) on their third (and most recent) album, Wincing the Night Away. The songs are more confident and robust but just as skewed and special — it feels like the work of a band with a unique vision.

I’ll admit I have absolutely no idea what this song is about, but I love it. I just did a little research and found a quote from the band’s lead singer and principal songwriter describing it as “a hypothetical, fictional account of a young, lesbian couple in high school dealing with the shitty small town they live in.” Can’t say I ever would have gotten that. Does that mean the title refers to a penis? I don’t know… you tell me.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #55: ‘Phantom Limb’ – The Shins

  1. Amy says:

    The video,with all those swords flying, might indicate your interpretation has some merit. This song didn’t grab me on first listen, but I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve heard of this group (mostly from Garden State), so I’ll give it another listen after my second cup of coffee.

  2. Clay says:

    This is one of those bands where I find my “four listens” rule definitely applies.

  3. Dana says:

    Don’t know much about them. This song actually sounds like it could come from a Euro band (which as you know is a knock against it for me), but still a nice sound and I will have to check out their other stuff.

  4. Clay says:

    More Euro bashing… 🙂

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