Let’s Talk About Sax

Paste magazine recently declared 2011 “The Year of the Sax.”  Fine by me. I love the saxophone. Like, really love it. It’s like I’m Christopher Walken in that one SNL skit about him needing more cowbell. Substitute “saxophone” for “cowbell” and you begin to get the picture. Even when I think back on my childhood, many of my favorite pop songs featured scorching sax solos (lots of Huey Lewis and Springsteen). A good sax line can take a “meh” kind of song and make it really stick to your ribs. Case in point: here are five songs currently in heavy rotation in my life. They all feature the saxophone in some capacity. Enjoy.

Iron & Wine, “Me and Lazarus”

I’ll be honest. I’ve no idea what this song is about. I gave up on interpreting the lyrics at about the 1:25 mark — right when the first sax solo starts. Check it out.

Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistakes”

This was my late summer jam. Some of you more savvy indie-rockers may recognize Eleanor’s signature talk-singing from The Fiery Furnaces (a band that is comprised of her and her brother, not three Hebrew boys fighting religious oppression). “My Mistakes” is all about — you guessed it — her mistakes, and the cyclical nature of young adulthood. The sax comes in at 3:30 to take us home.

Destroyer, “Song For America”

Have you ever wanted to transform your living space into a swanky, ultra-hip lounge? Playing this song –from Destroyer’s album Kaputt— would be a step in the right direction. It’s so smooth, it’s almost cheesy. Hmmm? What’s that? Oh, it is cheesy.

My Morning Jacket, “First Light”

There’s not much to say about this cut from MMJ’s most recent effort, called Circuital. It’s simply a song with everything it needs to make it awesome. (1) An airtight rhythm section including a funky drum beat and a rippling, bubbly bass line? Check. (2) Fuzzy, reverb-drenched guitar that coats the entire song like….I don’t know, Nutella? Check. (3) Gorgeous vocals from Jim James that eventually become a yelp? Check. And of course, (4) a sax riff that takes this jam to the next level at the 1:36 mark? Check.

Wye Oak, “I Hope You Die”

This is a  plush, inviting song with a rather unfortunate title. Having just seen this Baltimore duo live in Lawrence, I’m enamored with Jenn Wasner’s vocals and the steady, droning synthesizer line that intermingles with a very subtle sax part (I can’t determine if it’s real or a another synth sound).  Thanks to D$ for the heads-up on this track from Wye Oak’s EP My Neighbor/My Creator.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Sax

  1. Oh, indeed. Indeed. Brilliant post! Destroyer’s use of the sax is, at times, equally sensual and cheesy. What is it about the sax that makes it so great? Perhaps it’s the fact that you take note when the saxophone shows itself in a song.
    This great clip of “I Hope You Die” doesn’t feature the sax but those two can only do so much.

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