Chad VanGaalen: Hoping For The Inevitable

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Willow Tree"
  • Artist: Chad VanGaalen
  • CD: Soft Airplane
  • Genre: Pop-Rock
Chad VanGaalen 300

A warm, loping arrangement makes the morbidity of "Willow Tree" go down as smooth as a tall glass of iced tea. Chad Rimmer hide caption

itoggle caption Chad Rimmer

Chad VanGaalen spends most of his time creating: Restlessly and relentlessly, he holes up in his Calgary basement and churns out everything from complex animation to innumerable pop songs, most of them unreleased. He's too productive to be as fragile — even broken — as he sounds on record. VanGaalen's three full-length CDs find him ruminating on romantic obsession, vampirism, the imminence of death, and machines that feast on humanity, but at their core beats an unmistakably big heart. More to the point, his fascination with mankind's tenacity gives his songs a sense of tenuous but stubborn hope.

That said, "Willow Tree," from VanGaalen's new album Soft Airplane, finds this hope in the sweet release of his own demise, so this isn't exactly a Barack Obama speech set to music. But the song's warm, loping arrangement makes the morbid sentiment — "When I'm dead / that's when I'll be free" — go down as smooth as a tall glass of iced tea. It's enough to transport listeners to some figurative faraway hammock, complete with a gentle breeze to cool them off as they wait patiently for death.

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This story originally ran on Sept. 18, 2008.

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