NPR logo Obsessive Love in a Soft-Spoken Disguise

Obsessive Love in a Soft-Spoken Disguise

Put a Penny in the Slot

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Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Put a Penny in the Slot"
  • Artist: Fionn Regan
  • CD: The End of History
  • Genre: Folk-Pop
Irish-born singer-songwriter Fionn Regan is a budding star in the U.K.

Irish-born singer-songwriter Fionn Regan is a budding star in the U.K. hide caption

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There isn't exactly a dangerous shortage of soft-spoken, acoustic-guitar-wielding European male singer-songwriters in the mold of Nick Drake or Damien Rice. The trick is to find the ones with the songwriting chops to match the delicate arrangements and sensitive crooning. Fionn Regan's debut disc The End of History has made him a budding star in his native U.K., and at its best, it fits that bill nicely, propelled by the Irishman's understated charm and witty wordplay.

"Put a Penny in the Slot" has to be one of the most shyly nonchalant songs ever written from the perspective of an obsessed ex-lover, as Regan apologizes for pilfering souvenirs from his former girlfriend before meandering into tangential anecdotes and peppering his narrative with references to Saul Bellow and Paul Auster. The relevance of every line isn't always clear, but along the way, he casually slips in his underlying meaning: "I can't help from crying / I wish you were mine." For all his brainy asides, Regan's a lovesick fool, just like everyone else.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

This column originally ran on May 23, 2007.

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