Tuesday, January 21, 2014


"Eleanor Put Your Boots On" / Franz Ferdinand

When my son first stuck this CD into our car's CD player -- Franz Ferdinand's 2005 album You Could Have It So Much Better -- it only took two or three tracks to convince me that these guys were brought up on the Kinks. Alex Kapranos' lead vocals have that same soft campy flutter that Ray Davies patented in the mid-1960s; their lyrics are similarly compact little short stories; and they pack their songs with addictive riffs and tuneful hooks. In interviews, Kapranos owns up to that Kinks influence, though he adds that their original goal was simply to write music for girls to dance to. Well, I for one am ready to dance.

"Eleanor Put Your Boots On" is a long-distance romance song, but don't expect a moaning mushy I'm-missing-you song.

Wait, these guys are from Scotland -- why are they singing about New York? The Brooklyn dirt, the Coney Island, Greenpoint, the Statue of Liberty (which I will forever from now on see as "the statue with the dictionary"). But that's where Eleanor is, apparently, and the narrator of this song is pleading with her to put on some sort of fairy-tale seven-league boots that will let her take a giant leap over the ocean back to him.

She needs to be coaxed a bit -- in verse one he reassures her "I know it isn't dignified to run / But if you run / You can run to the Coney Island roller coaster" (go Cyclone!). And in verse two, he tries flattery: "You know you look so elegant when you run." Whatever it takes.

I love how vividly he's imagined this. The ocean that separates them is "filthy water," and though it's daytime where he is, the sun is still "hidden" on her side of the Atlantic. He advises her to leap off the Statue of Liberty's fingernails, throwing in a take-off "yeah!" that is simply adorable.

It's a wistful, upbeat fantasy, the electric piano twiddling around almost like a harpsicord. The volume builds and then fades, the melody sighs up and down -- you can almost feel the gusts of the jetstream that'll carry her home. It shifts into a darker minor key in the instrumental bridges, with some harder-edged guitar and drums layered on, like the rougher seas in the middle of the ocean. But then the narrator straightens himself out and sweetly woos Eleanor again.

"I could be there when you land," he keeps offering, shyly -- "I could be there when you land." Well, if she doesn't take him up on it, she's a fool. I'm tempted to go buy me a pair of those boots myself.

12 DOWN, 40 TO GO

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