Chad VanGaalen: Hoping For The Inevitable

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.

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

This story originally ran on Sept. 18, 2008.

Related NPR Stories

Purchase Featured Music

Soft Airplane

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Soft Airplane
Artist
Chad VanGaalen
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2008

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.