Benji by Sun Kil Moon (Album of the Week)


Artist: Sun Kil Moon

Year: 2014

Details: 11 songs, 1 hour 2 minutes

Who’s Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

I almost balked on this one. This was an album that Sam mentioned a few weeks ago, telling us that we should give it the treatment. Once chosen, I was given a heads up that it might be a little tough considering recent events. So, last Sunday, I listened to the first song, Carissa. It’s a seven minute ballad memorializing his second cousin who was killed in a freak accident when an aerosol can in a trash bag blew up. I don’t think I even finished listening to it. I stopped it and considered whether I wanted to switch my pick. Monday, I made the decision to stick with it.

I have to admit that the opening paragraph of Gone Mild’s review is kind of brilliant, but I don’t really agree with his take on this one. Dan calls BS on something that I appreciated. We will disagree on how this one felt  to us.

A couple weeks ago when we were listening to War on Drugs , I mentioned how the lyrics were lost to me until I really made the effort to seek them out. This album is totally the opposite of that. Each song is a poem with music behind it. Each song brings you closer to knowing who Mark Kozelek, the force behind Moon, is. You know he is from Ohio, that he has always been melancholy, that he has a bond with his mom that means everything to him, that he is fascinated/saddened by bad people who do bad things. You also get up close and personal to the triptik of his sexual education.

I completely disagree with Dan’s feeling that he comes across as seeming “ridiculously self-important.”  I am not going to state this as strongly as I feel it, but I think that Mark Kozelek understands that his life making music, writing lyrics, and performing, is a gift and he is lucky. I don’t think that he is bragging or thinking that his song about his dead cousin will immortalize her, it is just what he can do. His job is singing songs – all over the world.

My favorite song of the album is probably the 10 1/2 minute long “I Watched the Film, The Song Remains the Same.” Kozelek wrote about this one for the New York Times, and the column almost reads like the song lyrics. He sings around the experience of watching the Led Zeppelin concert film at different points in his life and what happened between those viewings. This song brings in again his appreciation for his place. At the end of this song, he sings:

I got a friend who lives in the desert outside Santa Fe

And I’m going to visit him this Saturday

Between my travelling and his divorces

And our time not being what it was

It’s been fifteen years since I last saw him

He’s the man who signed me back in ’92

And I’m going to go there and tell him face to face,

“Thank you.”

For discovering my talent so early

For helping me along in this beautiful musical world

I was meant to be in

I did not feel blue listening to this album. I felt connected to a guy that a week ago I didn’t know. I even got some smiles out of this. The last song of the album cracks me up. He wakes up stressing because he needs one more song for his album, so he just puts the day to music. It is what he does. When he does it, it can be sad, revealing, awkward, beautiful, and even amusing. And, by the way, there is a brief mention of that classic film about a cute dog.

Next up: another recommendation Elegancia Tropical, by Bomba Estereo


One thought on “Benji by Sun Kil Moon (Album of the Week)

  1. Pingback: Benji, by Sun Kil Moon (Album of the Week) « Gone Mild

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