Most legendary figures seem to come from near-mythical backgrounds. Abraham Lincoln had his stories of humble beginnings, as did George Washington. So why would one of the leading frontmen in the folk-pop movement be any different? What with his extensive training in a number of instruments, Andrew Bird has grown into almost as much a legend as a musician.
“I started when I was four with a cracker-jack box with a ruler taped to it,” Bird said. “I learnd by ear and it was all just fun and games until I was twelve. Then things got serious, competative and uptight: all the things you might associate with ‘classical training.’ [Then I] went through conservatory where I was supremely miserable, practicing eight hours a day.” So what does that mean to you and I, the lay people? He explained: “it means I’m overqualified to play most of the music I make.”
And that he is. Andrew Bird crafts some of the most simple pop songs out of a complicated mass of melodies and sounds including the guitar, violin and even whistling. His newest album, Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, has songs which rival Sufjan Stevens in production quality, and even occasionally challenge Bob Dylan in lyrical prowess. It should be no surprise, then, that Mysterious Production was seen by many critics as one of the finest albums of 2005.
Though Bird is ‘classically trained,’ that doesn’t mean that he’s let his schooling interfere with his music. “I was never really classically oriented,” he said. “A melody from Mozart or Bach or an old folk tune – my ear would process them the same way.” In fact, this unified approach to music has only one division in Bird’s mind. “There’s social music and then there’s listening music,” he explained. “I think of myself as playing social music, but the Ravel and Bach slips out of my subconscious. Thats what I was raised on.”
But where Andrew Bird’s story differs from other legendary figures is the end. George Washington is dead and gone, the Titanic sunk and even the Beatles eventually broke up. But Andrew Bird is still here. His story isn’t complete yet, and that’s partially what makes him so mythical. He’s like an open ended fairy tale or a half-filled book of poems – there’s so much potential that it’s beautiful.
Andrew Bird Mini-US Tour
FEB 2 // Milwaukee, WI – Miramar Theatre
FEB 3 // Urbana, IL – Canopy Club
FEB 4 // Bloomington, IN – Buskirk-Chumley Theater (SOLD OUT)
FEB 6 // Louisville, KY – Louisville Free Public Library (SOLD OUT)
FEB 7 // Lexington, KY – The Dame
FEB 9 // Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
FEB 10 // Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder, FL State Univ.
FEB 11 // Atlanta, GA – Eyedrum
FEB 13 // Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
FEB 15 // St Louis, MO – The Pageant
FEB 16 // Ames, IA – Maintenance Shop
FEB 17 // Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
FEB 23 // Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
FEB 24 // Duluth, MN – Weber Music Hall @ UMD
MP3: Andrew Bird – A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
MP3: Andrew Bird – Action/Adventure
MP3: Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes
MP3: Andrew Bird and Norah O Connor – Oh, Sister (Bob Dylan cover)