Song of the Day #178: ‘Family Tree’ – TV on the Radio

tvotrTen Best Songs of 2008 – #4

This was probably my hardest pick in the top ten… not because I wasn’t sure if a TV on the Radio song would make it but because I couldn’t decide which one.

‘Family Tree’ was my first choice but then I decided to switch it up for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t really representative of the album (Dear Science) as a whole. It’s far mellower than, and lacks the wonderful grooviness of, every other track on the CD. And it’s also a grower… I didn’t really “get” it the first two times I heard it, and I hesitated to put a song out there that might not grab people instantly.

So I picked another great song from the album, ‘Crying,’ and had the YouTube clip ready to go and everything.

But then I thought, what the hell. This is my list and it’s about songs, not albums. I shouldn’t pick songs because they represent the CD they appear on, and I shouldn’t worry about how the song will play to somebody who’s new to it. I should just pick the songs I loved best last year.

So I’m back to ‘Family Tree,’ which is indeed one of the songs I loved best in 2008. A dirge-like lament about prejudice and non-traditional relationships, it’s not the sort of thing you’ll hear in a nightclub anytime soon. But it’s haunting and emotional and it’s one of those songs you have to stop what you’re doing and lose yourself in. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Anda my love
Wake up to your window
The day calls in billows
It’s echoing moonlight onto the blue nightmare of your heart
In cozy red rainbow
It’s shaking off halos
And the memory of our sacred so and so

Oh take my hand sweet
Complete your release, unbury your feet
And married we’ll be
Alone in receiving ours is a feeling not that they would see
They don’t know that we could be
Down where your cradle escaped the sea
And your raven haired Mama caught told you so’s

Were hanging in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There’s a hundred hearts or three
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep them young

Ah me all mine
Is it safe to say that we’ve waited patiently
Call me on time
And recall the tune that has placed us gracefully
All into line
There’s the garden grave and a place they’ve saved for you
I’ll fall by your side
Though your silver haired Mama throws told you so’s

Were hanging in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There’s a hundred hearts or three
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young

And now we’ll gather in the shadow of your family tree
In haunted harmony
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the valley of your family tree
There’s a hundred hearts or three
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep us young

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #178: ‘Family Tree’ – TV on the Radio

  1. Dana says:

    Very good song. Reminds me of something Peter Gabriel might have written. The video is a bit of a disconnect:)

  2. Clay says:

    Another one of those fan videos made my somebody with too much time on his hands (like I’m one to talk).

  3. Amy says:

    I totally agree with the Peter Gabriel connection; this so reminds me of him.

    Also a challenging song, in terms of the figurative language used, and I always like that 🙂 I’ll have to try to “unpack” all of these images in order to fully appreciate the song, but I can certainly understand why it made such a strong impression on you.

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