Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 118
Mon. May 28, 2013

“Despair (acoustic version)”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs


“♫ Nothing
to fear

What a week, it felt like the last seven days were eternal. I can’t believe it’s Monday, already? There’s a song that got me through those stressful moments from this past week, a lovely song from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the acoustic version of “Despair” from Deluxe Edition of 2013’s Mosquito.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the capacity of crafting erotically electrically charged lust songs and tender acoustic love ballads in the same record. It’s no accident that Yeah Yeah Yeahs is more known for lead singer Karen O’s confessional songs like “Maps.” “I’m a real sucker for the ballads.” Karen admitted to NPR, “Yeah, totally! Just the amount of love songs I’ve written in the last 12 or 13 years. I mean, there’s a ton of them. I think it’s really kind of the ballsiest and most punk thing you can do — write a ballad that is straight from your heart and be able to perform it on a regular basis and just kind of put it out into the world. … And I credit Nick and Brian for always putting all their soul in it, too. I think it might be harder as a guy than as a gal.”

Asked by NPR why she enjoys writing such heart-wrenching love songs, Karen O replied, “It can exhaust me for sure. It’s a great thing, though, because I think a lot of people want to be able to express those kinds of emotions. I put on, like, a late track, where he’s just pouring his heart out in Vegas with these huge instrumentals, just over the top — and I feel alive. When I feel sad, this is the kind of sad that I feel.”

I can tell that The King Elvis Presley inspired Karen O and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs on this stripped down rendition of “Despair.” Giving Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer’s vocals more eternal depth, I love the Elvis like echo on Karen O’s high pitched voice of longing. This performance on the Deluxe Edition of Mosquito sounds like the lyrical offspring of the acoustic version of It’s Blitz’s “Little Shadow.” Karen O called this lovely number, “a love song to despair.” During an interview with UK’s The Sun, Karen described this tender Mosquito cut as, “It’s a feeling that you have that visits you time and time again. It’s an incredibly uplifting song, though, about wanting to run away from certain darkness in your life. It’s a reassurance, and just what I needed when I was writing it. It was like a nurturing and reassuring letter to myself and to anyone else going through something hard.”

Thank You, Karen O and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, that lyrical letter of “Despair” you sent was received proud and clear. If ever a love song could be an anthem of perseverance and the promise of tomorrow— this week, the hope oozing from this beautiful ballad… “Despair (acoustic version)” saved me. Taking a vocal inspiration cue from Elvis Presley, I invite you to take Karen O’s lyrical touchstone; the advice by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will help reignite the glow by embracing “Despair” inside your relentless heart.