I was just sitting here up in my third floor office, the “tree house”, keeping my extreme social distance (even Kathy is two floors away!), staying something similar to calm, as my life’s savings literally evaporate before my eyes, by playing with my very expensive audio toys – what could be more soothing than watching the reels spin on an Akai GX-77, I ask you – and being thus comforted put me in mind of this song.
I discovered Darnielle because he shared the stage in the song writers’ forum Ships and Dip, from which I once supplied a clip for One Great City, the wonderful ballad to frozen Winnipeg performed by John K Samson. Darnielle fronts a band called the Mountain Goats, an “indie” outfit that often releases its music in penny packets of a thousand units or so. Surrounded is from a “concept” album and proposed rock opera about, get this, a government-run organ harvesting conspiracy being perpetrated in secret facilities on the Moon. The clip starts with Darnielle explaining the underlying concept, and you’ll probably share the reaction of the guy sitting next to him.
Yet this a powerful song, which to me has always seemed quite Townshend-esque. Here we have a rock opera with a wild and out there story line, and a ferocious acoustic number that features almost frantic strumming of the sort heard in Flamenco music. Doesn’t this bring to mind the story of a deaf dumb and blind kid named Tommy, the subject of a similarly strummed little number called Pinball Wizard?
Anyway, how could I resist a song that portrays a character who doesn’t mind being separated from the general population, so long as he has his 96 inch widescreen to keep him company?
I’m just fine. I’ve got my friends here with me.