NPR logo

'On the Water' by The Walkmen

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/96541075/96537860" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The Walkmen: A Howl Through The Static

The Walkmen: A Howl Through The Static

'On the Water' by The Walkmen

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/96541075/96537860" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "On the Water"
  • Artist: The Walkmen
  • CD: You & Me
  • Genre: Rock

Through the rumble of muddy guitars and anxious drums, The Walkmen's "On the Water" paints an ominous scene. courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
courtesy of the artist

Through the rumble of muddy guitars and anxious toms, The Walkmen's "On the Water" paints an ominous scene. After three albums and a track-for-track re-creation of Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats, You & Me successfully captures the tone of the band's past by tempering its brash and clattering rock with road-weary introspection.

The arid mood boils slowly, bringing to mind an indie-rock score for a spaghetti Western or an unwritten Cormac McCarthy novel about a life passing by. Singer Hamilton Leithauser's words — "Walking down this dirt road / Watching at the sky / It's all I can do" — clearly come from a lonely place. But as the song reaches a climactic moment of clanging guitars and ghostly, whistling melodies, Leithauser's feverish howl erupts through the static. No matter how bad things get, his love, "Molly," is the only thing holding him together. Bleary-eyed and bracing, it's a vivid expression of devotion.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Article continues after sponsorship

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
You & Me
Artist
The Walkmen
Label
Gigantic
Released
2008

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?