09.21.2009

Another one of my favorite tracks on Derek Webb‘s latest album Stockholm Syndrome is the last one, “American Flag Umbrella,” which is track 13 on the “censored” version of the record (without the song “What Matters More”) and track 14 on the full version. The lyrics speak to the racism still lurking in the undercurrents of American society and the tension between how things are and the way they should be, ending the album on a final note of hope. They’re some of the best on the album, in my opinion, belonging on the same category as “This Too Shall Be Made Right,” the amazing understated finish to his last album, The Ringing Bell, and one of my favorite of his songs overall. And the music is intriguing as well: also in the tradition of “This Too Shall Be Made Right,” which consisted simply of Derek’s voice and a solo acoustic guitar, the accompaniment to “American Flag Umbrella” is mainly an acoustic piano, with some percussion and synthesizers taking a back seat role, reversing the concept of most of the rest of the album. And, even more intriguing, the entire song is based on a single chord progression, which itself is based mainly on two chords: Gmaj7 – D/F# – Gmaj7 – D/F# – Gmaj7 – D/F# – A – Bm – Gmaj7 – D/F#. I think that the simple music makes the lyrics stand out even more and lends them a directness and power that more complicated music might have obscured; but I’ve also read reviews that believe that the music distracts and detracts from the lyrics. What do you think?

To listen to the song, click here, click on the “Lala” player and scroll down to the last track. When I first clicked on it, it looked like it was going to play the whole song; but after I stopped it and went back later, it only played a 30-second clip. But it’s the only place online I could find that had at least the possibility of hearing the whole song. If you find another one, let me know; otherwise, try that link out and see if it works. And leave a comment to let me know what you think of the song and the music!

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    David Joseph on 12.30.2009

    I agree with you. This is definitely one of my favorite Derek Webb songs, along side with “This too shall be made right” and “I want a broken heart”. I really don’t think the background music is a distraction. I think it blends really nicely. The lyrics are great especially “if God is against us than who can be for us” and “oppression is always oppression no matter the reasons or means”. It causes me to look at those whom I oppress by ignoring their problems. The song ends wonderfully as well with “there’s hope for everyone”. Great commentary.

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