Favorite Songs of 2011

"Some New Jersey Dawn..."

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2011; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

“Payback Time,” by East River Pipe on We Live in Rented Rooms
“A Heart Divided,” by Holly Throsby on A Loud Call
“Sweet Disposition,” by The Temper Trap on Conditions
“Americano,” by Lady Gaga on Born This Way
“You’re Not Stubborn,” by Two Door Cinema Club on Tourist History
“Stranger,” by Lissie on Catching a Tiger
“Cruel,” by St. Vincent on Strange Mercy
“The Day,” by Moby on Destroyed
“Box of Stones,” by B.F. Leftwich on Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
“Job’s Coffin,” by Tori Amos on Night of Hunters
“Bluebird,” by Christina Perri on Lovestrong
“Mylo Xyloto/Hurts Like Heaven,” by Coldplay on Mylo Xyloto
“Dance, Dance, Dance,” by Lykke Li on Youth Novels
“Rolling in the Deep,” by Adele on 21
“Club Can’t Handle Me,” by Flo Rida featuring David Guetta on Only One Flo Pt. 1
“Never Gonna Leave Me,” by Sia on We Are Born
“Change of Seasons, by Sweet Thing on Sweet Thing
“Portable Television,” by Death Cab for Cutie on Codes and Keys
“The Cave,” by Mumford & Sons on Sigh No More
“Mistakes,” by Mates of State on Mountaintops
“Torch Song,” by Priscilla Ahn on When You Grow Up

The song that has most intrigued me this year is the first on the list, “Payback Time,” by East River Pipe.  So intrigued that I transcribed the lyrics below:

Yeah, I saw you walking with the commandant
Yeah, he buys you everything he thinks you want
But after food and wine and small talk on the Rhine
he says it’s payback time

Yeah, Jean-Paul took you on long cross-country trips
Yeah, Voltaire and Kierkegaard fell from his lips
of steal
But something went awry as love started to die
he said it’s payback time

Just wait, I’ll come along
on some New Jersey dawn
I’ll say payback time

I can’t find the lyrics online, but the singer is pretty clear.  The only part that’s in question is what I have in bold.  I imagine the first stanza describing a situation in a concentration camp (commandant, Rhine, etc.).  In the second stanza, the “you” is a woman, and the singer has lost her to Jean-Paul (hence, the lips of grammatically incorrect “steal”).  The third stanza is a bit of a mystery.  Our narrator will be coming for his girl at some undetermined morning, but whose payback is he talking about?  Jean-Paul’s?  Hers?

Of course, for all I know, the song has nothing to do with anything I’ve said above.  Whatever.  It’s a great tune, and I like thinking about it.

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