Song of the Day #3,186: ‘Port of Morrow’ – The Shins

The Random iTunes Dairy has been reading the blog again. How else can we explain today’s “random” selection from The Shins’ album Port of Morrow just two days after I sang its praises?

This is the title track and the album’s final song, and it has a much more ethereal quality than the rest of the record. James Mercer sings in a falsetto reminiscent of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

Here’s how Mercer explains the meaning of the song:

Port Of Morrow is the sign on the side of the road when you come back to Oregon from being on tour. You head west into Oregon, and Port Of Morrow is one of the things where you get like, ‘Oh my god, we’re almost home!’ It’s right on the Columbia River, which is what separates Oregon from Washington state. That made me think of the River Styx, and I thought of death. Like we’ll all be dead eventually. So the song sort is sort of a summing up of this whole idea that life is at once beautiful and grotesque, and we live in a state of ignorance and a state of terror. You know, like you live moment to moment and you’re eating your food and going about your business, and looming nearby is the Port Of Morrow—this eventual fate.

Through the rain and all the clatter
Under the Fremont bridge I saw a pigeon fly
Fly in fear from the raptor come to take its life

And as it closed in for the capture
I funneled the fear through my ancient eyes
To see in flight, what I know are the bitter mechanics of life

Under my hat it reads “the lines are all imagined”
A fact of life I know to hide from my little girls
I know my place amongst the bugs and all the animals
And it’s from these ordinary people you are longing to be free

My hotel and on the TV
A preacher on a stage like a buzzard cries
Out a warning of phony sorrow, he’s trying to get a rise

The cyanide from an almond
Let him look at your hands, get the angles right
Ace of spades, port of morrow, life is death is life

I saw a photograph: Cologne in ’27
And then a postcard after the bombs in ’45
Must’ve been a world of evil clowns that let it happen

But now I recognize, dear listeners
That you were there and so was I

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

Under my hat I know the lines are all imagined
A fact of life I must impress on my little girls
I know my place amongst the creatures in the pageant
And there are flowers in the garbage, and a skull under your curls

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah…

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One thought on “Song of the Day #3,186: ‘Port of Morrow’ – The Shins

  1. Dana says:

    This is an interesting exploration of the celebration of life entangled with the apprehension of death. I suspect I will be having similar feelings on my upcoming 50th birthday.😄😓😄😓😉

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