On a personal note…
Soon there will be a new weekly column called “On a personal note…” appearing here on Music.Defined. Every Wednesday I’ll be featuring a different guest writer who will talk a little bit about a song they have a deep personal connection with. I’ve given no guidance as to length or choice of song, so it’s up to them to write as much or as little as they see fit. I’ve always been curious as to what songs influence my favorite artists, and I’m hoping we’ll all get some insight into the minds of our featured guests.
For my own personal choice, there are literally millions of tunes to choose from. I could go easy and pick a Wilco song, which would make a lot of sense because I could talk about Wilco all day and all night. But that wouldn’t be terribly interesting. And I’d rather inform you about a song that maybe you haven’t heard yet, but you definitely should. To that end, let me tell you about “We Will Do Great Things” by Sons Of An Illustrious Father.
One Body, SOAIF’s second record, was recorded with Oliver Ignatius for Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen. I became friends with Oliver through this site, and every once in a while he’ll let me hear some stuff that’s being recorded. He couldn’t wait to share Sons music, and after hearing it I could understand why. It’s the kind of noise that you need only hear once to fall in love with. And you grow deeper in love every time you hear it after that.
I was on a bus to work the first time I listened to the album, and I barely got past the opening track that day. “We Will Do Great Things” begins with a bone-chilling wail from Sofia Ablam that will haunt your dreams for the rest of your days. Hers is a voice of unforgettable power and beauty (you can also find it on albums by Squinch Owl and Thorn & Shout).
It took me five or six times pushing play before I got beyond the opening 30 seconds. I just wanted to hear that voice over and over. I was on the train north to the ‘burbs before I finally heard the whole thing. What a marvelous piece of music. More than anything I wanted to share it with everyone, the way Oliver shared it with me. If nothing else, that is what I hope to accomplish through this site-making people aware of music they may have missed otherwise. In this case I felt it would be criminal to keep it to myself.
The lyrics to the song could have very well been inconsequential, with the primal howling and unusual, accordion-led arrangement enough to get it by. But Sons are too good to let a half-good song slip through the cracks. Instead they deliver elegant poetry using easy-to-understand language that anyone can relate with.
“And it is important to get drunk,Fuck everything upAnd it is important to let everyone downSometimes so that you can realizeJust how much they mean to you,And it is important to know
That we will do great things, together or apart”
I can’t give all the credit to Ablam here. Sons is, above all else, an ensemble. Whether a quintet as they were here, or their current state as a trio; no one member is more important than any other. Lilah Larson provides backing vocals and plays the guitar. Josh Aubin, Ezra Miller, and Jake Generalli also support with their voices. Miller also provides a thunderous set of drums that slam and crash all over the place, adding to the heightened drama of the piece.
I still listen to “We Will Do Great Things” with pretty high regularity. I feel like it stands out as a great example of the work in trying to do, as well as just being an amazing piece of music. If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen. Be prepared to fall head over heels.