One Track Mind: The Low Anthem, "This God Damn House" (2007)

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by Mark Saleski

I have attempted to describe this before (and I even referred to it in a recent preview of The Low Anthem’s Smart Flesh), but the sensation is a difficult one to get at. Without any sort of documentation, the best I’ve ever been able to come up with is having an out of body experience. I’ve also heard it described as “forgetting who you are.” That’s getting closer.
So yesterday I stumbled onto a video of the actual show that me and TheWife™ attended. Watch and listen to “our” version of “This God Damn House” and know that I nearly lost my mind when they sang “…and don’t forget to comb your hair.” The question remains though, what exactly is it that can make a person react this way to a piece of music?

I don’t have an answer. There are plenty of songs out there with nice melodies and harmonies, and yet I don’t react to them. Heck, I’m certain that there are a lot of tunes that I can’t stand and yet still share these attributes. This edges us toward the idea of musical resonance, a topic for another day. Also, a topic whose secrets just might be impenetrable.

“Comb….your…hair……” The melody rises, the harmonies expand. At that moment I feel weightless. “Me” no longer exists. My “self” has been temporarily atomized, though my past experiences somehow manage to still play a part. This feeling is impossible to hold onto. The songs ends and I’m back at a show in a church hall in rural New Hampshire….but I’ve been changed. It feels like everybody in the room has been changed, maybe even everybody in the world.

The Low Anthem “This God Damn House” LIVE 6.6.09 from Tim Gurczak on Vimeo.

Part of me thinks that music is so important because it can lift me away from troubles. There’s some truth to that, but it’s a mistake to think that music is mere entertainment, there to smooth out the bumpy road ahead. I know this because these very same feelings can arise when my life outside of the concert hall is just fine.

Again, I don’t have an answer. But take a look at this video. There may not be the same resonance for you, but this band is a part of your history, whether you know it or not.

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