"Je nage, mais les sons me suivent": Arcade Fire

"Je nage, mais les sons me suivent": "I swim, but the sound follows me"

You already know I was hopelessly devoted to David Bowie. I'd say there is a distinct possibility that I would never have really, genuinely allowed myself to love anything else if he himself hadn't made any recommendations. I read in an interview from around the time of Reality that David Bowie thought that Arcade Fire showed some promise. (Yes, it's time to deviate from the old school pattern and talk about something 100% Made In the 21st Century.)

In 2007 I read a review in a magazine about Neon Bible, and the review was more than favorable- it glowed. I recognized the band's name from the Bowie interview from a few years before. I bought the album. For several weeks, while I worked on my epic final project for my high school art class, I don't remember listening to much else. I didn't buy Funerals for another year or so, but I did get The Suburbs on the day it came out. I guess that means that in a way I've been on their team from the beginning, before anybody knew who they were, before they ironically won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards for The Suburbs. Which doesn't make me any more or less of a fan than anybody else, by the way. It just makes them more special to me, because I feel like I've been watching them grow for a while.

In 2011, which was for me the Year of Concerts (more on that another day), my friend and even bigger music fan Rob went to see them at the Comerica Theater (FKA The Dodge which is where I saw Bowie). The Local Natives opened for them. They were pretty good. The weeknight crowd was sluggish, as usual. I perceived that AF felt that vibe too. There came a point at which I felt like they just sort of dismissed the tepid crowd and began to just play for themselves tonight. I could have sworn I watched the decision cross Win Butler's face, and they just started to pretend we weren't even there. And then the energy tripled. Not ours. Theirs. Have you ever felt like music is moving through you? Making something more out of you, like you're the giant wand through which one of those enormous Ren-Faire bubbles is being blown? That's kind of how I felt. Regine wailed "Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small/ That we can never get away from the Sprawl" like she was singing to God Himself.

That's what I love about Arcade Fire. Even at their lowest key, they are passionate. That first summer after high school graduation, the first summer my family went to San Diego for a few days to vacation, I walked along the sand in the dark with "Ocean of Noise" from Neon Bible in one ear, and the Pacific Ocean in the other. I waded out a little further toward the water and let the tide exhort me up to my knees, hearing the rasping boom of waves and the mournful horny outro before "The Well and the Lighthouse" broke in with its heart pounding. I felt passionate and tremendously big and hopelessly small all at once. I think I will replay that scene every time my path leads to a moonlit oceanic beach, for all my life. It's the little moments, without any especial significance, after all, that make up a life, and sometimes you have to see the beauty and the dramatic in the regular.

Which, incidentally, is what The Suburbs conveyed to me.

You can find all their albums on Spotify or any kind of record store you like. Since there are only three, (and there are only three full ones so far, not counting the EP that preceded Funeral) there is not a lot of material with which to make a mix tape. Furthermore, to try to compile a "Best Of" for Arcade Fire is, in my opinion, sort of detrimental to the body of work, since the tracklist on every album sounds so good in its original format.


If you insist on only a taste, here are a few video-based suggestions:

1) "Sprawl II: Mountains Beyond Mountains" from The Suburbs
2) "Neon Bible" performed in an elevator from Neon Bible (and you haven't seen anything til you've seen a 7-8 person band making music in an elevator)
3) "Wake Up" featuring David Bowie from Funeral


  1. I l-o-v-e how passionate you are about music! Definitely a unique blog niche.

    1. Why, thank you! I am glad you enjoy it. Do you have any recommendations? I have plenty to talk about but I love new music too!

  2. That settles it. I NEED a silver and blue tensil dress.

  3. My friend Adam gave me a copy of Funeral back in 2006. "Crown of Love" still kills me every time.