Andrew Bird: The Master Swarm

If anyone can get the birds to come back, Andrew Bird’s the one. His instruments are the violin, the mandolin, his voice and his whistle. “Without words“: “As much as I sometimes downplay the importance of lyrics I can’t seem to resist writing them. I think I only pretend to disrespect words so I don’t give myself a complex about it.” His new album, to be released on 20 January, is called Noble Beast, and he’ll be performing in honor of fellow Chicagoan Obama at the Big Shoulders Ball in Washington next week. You can already listen to the entire album here on NPR.

Here he sings and whistles his new “The Master Swarm” in August 2008. He creates very peculiar natural science poetry that, in this song, sees us as the swarm, as radiolarians growing into something, without any central power doing the steering. This was the first song of his I heard, and it swept me off my feet:

Masterswarm Lyrics – Andrew Bird

come what may
lay your eggs where it’s warm
we come here to swarm
come by sea
swarm like smoke in the dawn
we were the young
we were the swarm

radiolarians
midges and moths
cut from a cloth
we were the young
we were the swarm

flailing fetal fleas
feeding from the arms of the master
burrow into me
and this is sure to misspell disaster
Oh and the young in the larval stage
orchestrating plays
in vestments of translucent alabaster

so they took me to the hospital
they put my body through a scan
what they saw there would impress them all
for inside me grows a man
who speaks with perfect diction
as he orders my eviction
as he acts with more conviction
than I

oh, burrow into me
this is sure to misspell disaster
oh, burrow into me
you’re feeding from the arms of the master

we were the young
we were the swarm
we were the young
radiolarians

come what may

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

3 thoughts on “Andrew Bird: The Master Swarm”

  1. I agree! He loops his claps, too, and creates those loops live, just like she does. I like the way this generation of folk musicians play with electronics and yet keep their traditional skills alive. :-)

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