Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Certain Songs #1300: Neko Case – “The Tigers Have Spoken (Live)” | Medialoper

Album: The Tigers Have Spoken
Year: 2004

Celebrating the latest big round number with my very favorite Neko Case song, and a song that’s on the short list of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Alt-Country division.

With Dallas & Travis Good — guitarists of co-writers/backing band The Sadies — jingling and jangling their guitars around chord changes that came from the beginning of the universe and will outlast the the final star, “The Tigers Have Spoken” is simultaneously anthemic and bittersweet.

As drummer Mike Belisky builds and builds around the jangling guitars, Neko wraps her voice around the loveliest melody she’s yet written.

They shot the tiger on his chain
In a field behind the cages
He walked in circles ’til he was crazy
And he lived that way forever
And he lived that way beside them
Separate from the other tigers
He did not know another tiger

So much going on here: Kelly Hogan coming in perfectly on the words “chaaaaaaaain” & “craaaaaa-zy” the way that Neko wraps her voice around the “a” in “caaaaaaaaa-ges” and even the stop-time “Sweet Jane” guitar riff at the end of the first two verses.

After that, there’s a bridge — “The Tigers Have Spoken” doesn’t really have a chorus, per se — where Neko gives a bit more backstory on how the tiger’s only fond memory was of a woman who fed him as a cub, before building to the now-even-more-sad finale.

They shot the tiger on his chain
They shot the tiger on his chain
They shot the tiger on his chain
They shot the tiger on his chain

The whole song is kinda heartbreaking, really, the sadness in the lyrics both underscored and overwhelmed by the beauty of the melody and the naturalness of the performance. And while I guess she could have saved it for Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, she knew that it was major enough to name her live album after it.

“The Tigers Have Spoken”

“The Tigers Have Spoken” performed live in 2014

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