Category Archives: Song of the week

Song of the week: Rococo Zephyr

I’m not committing myself to doing this every week, but it might work as an occasional series. Sometimes you just get really taken by a particular song and keep listening to it, then find yourself humming or singing snatches of it around the house, or at work (which can be embarrassing).

So, to kick this off, the inaugural winner is:

Rococo Zephyr by Bill Callahan

Great song, great album cover

Great song, great album cover

You know how it is, you’re minding your own business, listening to a new album, when suddenly, out of nowhere a song just grabs you by the scruff of the neck and growls “What do you think about that then?”. OK, just me then.

Well, this happened a couple of songs in to the curiously titled ‘Sometimes I wish we were an eagle’ by Bill Callahan. I’m not sure if it was the lilting orchestral backing, the effects of that voice (a deep baritone that sounds like a weird fusion of Nick Cave and Nick Drake) or the gorgeous dreamy lyrics that had me hooked.

It was probably a combination of all the above. I just remember listening with a grin on my face that got broader as the song progressed. I loved a few of the lyrical touches: “She watched the water ripple, ripple ripple light/Light watched the water ripple ripple ripple she” and the way he delivers the lines: “I did some kind of dance/Jaunty as a bee” just had me beaming. The very fact that he describes the zephyr (slight gentle breeze) as rococo (florid and elaborate) is worthy of some kind of award in itself.

I’m not entirely sure I understand everything that’s going on in the song, but it does evoke a very idyllic pastoral scene and by means of a lovely gentle tune.

I managed to find a video of him performing it in a record store in Ohio, but I prefer the album version for the additional backing instrumentation and the haunting female echo of “rococo” . I was also a bit disappointed that he looked fairly normal (though uncannily similar to Nick Drake) – I’d been expecting him to look like Yoffy from Fingerbobs, but you can’t have everything.

A fantastic song that would be the perfect soundtrack to a riverside picnic, just in time for Summer. And a serious contender for my favourite song of the year.

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