I’ll be upfront: I don’t care for the music of The Decemberists. I’ve tried, after being told repeatedly how “deep” or “clever” or “literate” the lyrics are, and how good the music is—but it all strikes me as awfully bland stuff, like someone’s shitty take on R.E.M.
Anyway, I do very much like David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest, the “inspiration” (yes, I’ll put the word in suspicious quotation marks) behind The Decemberists’ new music video for “Calamity Song.” Here’s their singer/songwriter Colin Meloy (via NPR)—
I wrote “Calamity Song” shortly after I’d finished reading David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest. The book didn’t so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace’s irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing. And I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that’s played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace’s work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we’ve come up with. I can only hope DFW would be proud.
I’m not going to conjecture whether Wallace would be proud or not. That seems like total asshole move. But, I am interested in seeing a filmed version of Eschaton, and I do like Michael Schur’s show Parks and Recreation. So I’m going to watch the video now—unmuted and everything—and then post a reaction. Here’s the vid—
Okay. Nice production values, I guess. I think that’s the band, right? I like it when bands are in their own videos and “act.” I guess they’re playing the older ETA kids who are watching the game this Interdependence Day. The singer is Pemulis, that seems clear. It snows in the Escahton episode, but it looks like only some rain here. I like the Otis P. Lord kid, but I don’t know if the other kids look right. This is weak criticism, I know. Hmmm. The song . . . well, I’m not into this song, but I guess it’s pleasant enough. It’s terribly competent. Bits of it sound like a sped up version of R.E.M.’s “Talk About the Passion.” Some of the lyrics seem to reference or play off of Infinite Jest maybe—like “Year of the Something Something” or something.
I don’t know. What can I say here? I hope no one tries to make a movie out of Infinite Jest. It was all I could do to fast forward through most of Jim from The Office’s movie of Hideous Men.