We continue Artist Of The Month with the music of Jack’s Mannequin. Part 1
A musician is more than an artist. A musician is someone who puts their heart and soul into their music. They create every detail. They compose a symphony of song. They write their own music. It’s not about money or fame. It’s about music. It’s about love. Andrew McMahon (Jack’s Mannequin) is a musician, so categorizing him as an artist is one-sided. He is more than that. So let’s rename this Musician of the Month (Am I getting too mushy?). Yes. I love Andrew. I love Jack’s Mannequin. Frankly, I think Andrew is the greatest songwriter of our generation. That’s my personal opinion. But, you can see it in the music. The craft, the lyrics, the melodies. It’s all there. You just have to look.
So today, we’re going to start looking a little deeper into the music. Listening. Understanding. Feel the emotion. Listening to the lyrics (This is starting to sound like a bad, bad teaching exercise). Let’s start off with probably the most recognizable Jack’s Mannequin song, Dark Blue. Now, I want you to listen to the song first, soak it in. Then, listen to it again, pay attention to the lyrics this time. Listen again, listen to the melodies, the piano. Just breathe it in. You should do this for all of the following songs (It’s like a yoga mantra).
“This flood (this flood) is slowly rising up swallowing the ground Beneath my feet, Tell me how anybody thinks under this condition so I’ll swim (I’ll swim) as the water rises up, the sun is sinking down And now all I can see are the planets in a row Suggesting it’s best that I slow down This night’s a perfect shade of Dark blue (dark blue)”
The opening piano solo begins, and you taken way by the drum beats and guitar that lead into a tale about struggle; drowning in life and wondering if there is someone there who understands you, is with you through it all. Off the album Everything In Transit, this is Dark Blue.
“Have you ever been alone in a crowded room when I’m here with you.”
Up next, is one of my favorite songs of all time: Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby). If I could quote this entire song, I would. What Andrew does with that piano, the breathtaking sweet melody in this song . . . Ah! I love it. They lyrics are equally amazing “These hammers and strings Been following me around From a box filled garage To the dark punk rock clubs Of 1000 American towns” (Is it obvious that I think that Andrew McMahon is one of the most brilliant songwriters on the face of this earth?). I guess it’s the way his songs affect me emotionally that I find so appealing. His songs make my heart race. That is a rare commodity.
“Give me something to believe in, A breath from the breathing, So write it down, I don’t think that I’ll close my eyes, ‘Cause lately I’m not dreaming, So what’s the point in sleeping? It’s just that at night, I’ve got nowhere to hide So I write you a lullaby A lullaby. These hammers and strings Been following me around”
One song, well another song that has competition with Hammers and Strings (As my favorite Jack’s Mannequin song, let alone one of my favorite songs), is Bruised. The almost hypnotic chorus is just one reason why I love this song. The jump up and down rhythm of the piano and drums combined make it an amazing rock song. Not to mention the heartbreaking tale of a love that is ending and the narrator knows, so he just wants to hold on as long as he can (Jeez. I need to go back to fiction. I’m so over-dramatic).
“Hours pass, and she still counts the minutes That I am not there, I swear I didn’t mean For it to feel like this, Like every inch of me is bruised, bruised, And don’t fly fast. Oh, pilot can you help me? Can you make this last? This plane is all I got, So keep it steady, now, Cause every inch you see is bruised”
Last, but certainly not least, is Swim. There are really no words available to describe this song. Inspirational. Beautiful. Both come to mind, but these are hardly adequate. I think it’s just better if you listen.
“I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn, Memories like bullets they fired at me from a gun, A crack in the armor, I swim for brighter days, Despite the absence of sun, Choking on salt water, I’m not giving in, I swim”
Come back next week, where we’ll have even more amazing music from Jack’s Mannequin. Until then tell me what your favorite J.M song is in the comments! Namaste.