Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 280
Thursday, Oct 18, 2012
Death Cab for Cutie front man Benjamin Gibbard has been busy since his much publicized split with She & Him singer Zoey Deschanel. After successful Codes and Keys tour, Gibbard recorded some solo songs in Eagle Rock with his good friend Earlimart’s Aaron Espinoza. The result is Former Lives, an aptly titled collection of songs that didn’t fit under the Death Cab moniker that Gibbard wanted to release them to the world.
The definite highlight of Former Lives is Gibbard’s duet with Aimee Mann. Ben explained how he got Mann to collaborate with him on “Bigger Than Love” when he said, “I’ve been friends with Aimee [Mann] for some time. I thought it would be great for Aimee to come down and sing on this thing. I felt so honored that she would come down and sing on my little song. Once that voice comes through the speaker, it’s like, “Oh my God, that’s the voice! That’s it!” She’s just a wonderful, gracious person. It was a real honor to have her.”
Having Aimee Mann sing on “Bigger Than Love” was quite a coup for Ben. Gibbard talked about how honored he felt to have Mann sing on Former Lives when he said, “So I just felt, I mean, who doesn’t love Aimee’s voice? Who would ever dispute that Aimee Mann doesn’t have one of the greatest voices? And the fact that I was able to just call her up and ask, “Will you be willing to come down and sing on this thing?” is truly one of the greatest honors of my career as a professional musician, that I can know somebody like this and that they’re gracious enough to come down and sing on something that I’ve written. It was just a great day. I actually saw Aimee a few days ago. She was in LA and she’s just really great. She’s super fucking funny. I suppose you wouldn’t suspect it, but after seeing that video [a shot-for-shot remake of ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry”] the cat’s out of the bag. It’s so great.”
What makes “Bigger Than Love” my favorite cut from Former Lives is the literary inspiration that sparked Ben to pen this duet with Aimee Mann as he discussed when Gibbard said, “I’m a huge F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, and I also love [his wife] Zelda’s writing a lot as well. There’s a book that’s a collection of their letters called Dear Scott, Dear Zelda. I just really liked the tone in which they wrote to each other back and forth throughout their lives—starting in the courtship all flowery and all yearning. And ending later in their lives when Zelda was in an institution in Asheville and F. Scott was in Hollywood, writing scripts, punching up scripts for studios, which just seems like an egregious waste of talent when it comes to one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.”
I love the idea. Two star crossed paramours in a turbulent long distanced relationship penning letters describing their love penned in detail and brought to life with the lyrical imagination of Gibbard. Ben further talked about how F. Scott and Zelda influenced “Bigger Than Love” when he said, “And as you can imagine, the language is really flowery, like, “Oh, my love, I can’t bear to not see you for another day,” that kind of stuff. It starts off with this very flowery courtship, and as the book progresses through their lives with all the craziness and mental illness and alcoholism, it evolves into this very beautiful but tragic correspondence that is made even more beautiful because clearly it was never meant for anyone else to read. It’s really moving. I found myself attracted to that book and wanted to try a lot together into the song. In doing that, I needed somebody to sing the Zelda parts of the song, and I’d been friends with Aimee [Mann] for a long time, and she wanted to do it. She came down, and we had a lot of fun with it. That song turned out to be one of my favorites on the record as well.”
If you love your songs inspired by classic literary works than you must discover Ben Gibbard’s new duet with Aimee Mann; “Bigger Than Love” has two of the alt music’s iconic singers coming together to bring to life the passionate correspondence of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. “Bigger Than Love” is the kind of romantic tale that we’d all love to experience. With Aimee Mann as his lyrical foil, “Bigger Than Love” is a love letter to the past that honors The Fitzgerald’s in a love song that’s made for our disconnected modern world with a classic literary touch that’s pure Ben Gibbard. “Bigger Than Love” proves the romantic belief that promises once sent… should never be forgotten.