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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 107
Thurs. May 16, 2013

“Subway”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

2013

“♫ Caught
my reflection
in the
subway
car
♫”

One thing you’ll notice from the beginning of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album is that Mosquito has this loud and electrically eclectic sound flowing through out. No doubt that Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ new album has to be the wildest musical trip of 2013. Saying that, I believe the calmer and quieter moments of Mosquito are the most potent. Lead singer Karen O would agree, when she told Spin Magazine, “I wanted to bring back the warmth, the fucked-upness of it, but also [keep it] refined. I wanted it to be simple, but 13 years into it, you can’t be that simple. So at the very least I wanted it to have character, I wanted it to sound like a record.”

“Subway” sounds like Karen O’s modern interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Here My Train A Comin’.” A classic blues song Jimi penned about his destiny as a successful artist that Hendrix described in David Tubbs’ Jimi Hendrix: The Stories Behind Every Song, “It’s about a cat running around town and a whole lot of people from across the
tracks are putting him down. And nobody don’t want to face up to it but this cat has something, only everybody’s against him ‘cause the cat might be different. So he goes on the road to be a voodoo child, come back to be a magic boy
.”

Instead of trying to capture Hendrix’s voodoo child vibe, Karen O chose a Subway instead of a traditional train reflects that this Yeah Yeah Yeahs moving number is less about fame and more about love. While Yeah Yeah Yeahs were writing and recording in New Orleans, Karen O admitted, by sending her Top 50 songs written about New York City, it was her husband who inspired her to pen “Subway” when she said, “He was like ‘you gotta write one.’ I wrote this track, which is a love song set on the most New York City thing there is – the metro system.”

Listening again to “Subway,” this Mosquito cut has more of a modern day connection to Paul Banks and Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights ode, “NYC.” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs could have taken Interpol’s “NYC” idea and instead of describing a “porno,” thanks to Karen O’s husband she penned the ultimate underground railway love song. I love the way it’s just Karen O’s voice and the sound of the actually Subway in the background. A sort of Dancer in Dark meets PJ Harvey vocal brings Karen’s O beautiful romantic song to New York City’s “Subway” to life.

Mosquito’s “Subway” reflects something that Karen O told the New York Times when she said, “Being in the shadow a little bit preserved us. Coming up in a real moment baptized us as special, there’s no question. But we’ve been allowed to evolve.” It’s obvious to me that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs used the “Maps” of success to grow into an eclectic unit that can create a tribute of something so lovely as waiting for the train and personal anthem of hopeful escapism. “Subway” is a post modern lullaby that you will fall for; sit back, put on your headphones and enjoy the ride.

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