Monday, March 16, 2009

Grapevine Follies: Another DCfC Maladaptation

What is it about videos for Death Cab for Cutie songs? Andrew Sullivan linked to this fan-made video of "Grapevine Fires," one of only two songs from Narrow Stairs that I consider worth rescuing from a fire should the worst happen (the other being "Cath ...").

While the animation of this video is striking and clever -- the fades from photo frames to real life and back are quite well done -- the video fails for taking the lyrics with a slavish literalism best left to the most moronic devotees of the Koran and the Bible. Treating "Grapevine Fires" as a song about a runaway wildfire is, perhaps, true to the words on the page, but it robs the words of all their evocative power. Please don't let this animator get a crack at, say, this or this or, god forbid, this.



The lyrics to "Grapevine Fires":

When the wind picked up, the fire spread
And the grapevine seemed left for dead
And the northern sky looked like the end of days
The end of days

The wake-up call to a rented room
Sounded like an alarm of impending doom
To warn us it's only a matter of time
Before we all burn

We bought some wine and some paper cups
Near your daughter's school when we picked her up
And drove to a cemetery on a hill

And we watched the plumes paint the sky gray
As she laughed and danced through the field of graves
There I knew it would be alright
That everything would be alright

And the news reports on the radio said it was getting worse
As the ocean air fanned the flames
But I couldn't think of anywhere I would've rather been
To watch it all burn away

The firemen worked in double shifts
With prayers for rain on their lips
And they knew it was only a matter of time

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