February 28, 2008

This would not’ve happened if I hadn’t missed my plane

The Damien Rice b-side “Rat Within The Grain” from the 9 Crimes single has been steadily pacing towards my favorite song of the moment. Like so many of Damien’s creations, this one is piercing and terribly sad, soaked in a wistful bitterness.

I was first snagged purely by the linguistic aesthetics that stopped me in my tracks — the braids of wordplay like wood/would, want, wonderful, true. The repetition lulls you along like the chugging of a railroad car, then socks you in the gut with the acidity of his meaning.

Rat Within The Grain – Damien Rice

It gouges pretty harshly at the softest parts of my insides, as his jaded self-contempt seeps into the tender, almost-hidden professions of a maybe hopeless kind of love. In one long sentence, he goes from wanting to keep her at arm’s length because he knows that parts of him are a turbulent ocean, and wanting so much to be wonderful in her eyes. The circular logic is pristinely bittersweet:

I wouldn’t want you to want
to be wanted by me
I wouldn’t want you to worry
you’d be drowned within my sea

I only wanted to be wonderful,
in wonderful is true, in truth
I only really wanted to be wanted by you

Isn’t that more or less the human condition as it pertains to love, right there?

Then a moment later, the other most striking part of the song:

In my bed go rest your head
upon the bones of a bigger man
he can cover you with rockwool
and you can close up like a clam . . .

Just because I didn’t know what rockwool was, I googled, as I do. I learned that it’s an inorganic, alkaline, sterile, inert growing medium, the kind that a gardener would use to replace soil. Maybe that strikes you as too much technical knowledge, that I am a nerd who should just enjoy the song, but for me . . . knowing that makes it an even more brilliant lyric. Sterile. Inert. Alkaline. She closes up.

After I sit here and try to write about it, I realize the futility. Just listen to the song and the weight of the space it occupies. Hopeless and hopeful, redemptive and beyond redemption.

Tagged with .


  • he is great.

    bob — February 28, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

  • This is a great song. Thanks.

    pete. — February 28, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

  • Rockwool is also used nowadays as a complement for walls to make a room soundproof and “weatherproof” inside, making it much harder to bear anything from the outside.

    juan — February 29, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  • I’ve always felt that this song was so much more powerful than anything on 9 Crimes, and I’ve been pretty confused as to why this was a B-Side. I LOVED O and I HATED 9 Crimes, almost to the point of not caring about his career any more. However, this B Side gave me hope that he still has the gift, but perhaps not the gift of self editing? Either way, this is an amazing song and I love that you have written a special post just for it. It’s sad when amazing non -album tracks get forgotten. Iron and Wine’s Trapeze Artist, for example, I consider his best song. And this Damien Rice B-Side is definitely one of his finest moments.

    Love your blog, by the way

    Anonymous — February 29, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  • wow! thanks for sharing this, first time I hear him and really liked the lyrics.
    somehow I arrived here looking for jason ricci, great blog!

    diabluzero — March 1, 2008 @ 7:34 am

  • Seguo il tuo blog da parecchi mesi ed è sempre un piacere passare per una visita e trovare meravigliosa musica da condividere. Grazie.
    Un abbraccio

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time. I’m always delighted to go for a stroll in your pages and find out wonderful music to share. Thank you.

    Lady Door — March 5, 2008 @ 1:15 am

  • i have to agree with you Damien Is A Lyrical Genius. theres no doubt about that. there is this song that i love by an artist his name is “Waz” he has this song called “maria” with very strong lyrics. i love him.

    check out his myspace.


    peace out

    Anonymous — March 18, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

  • I’ve been knowing your blog for a long time. Now I find that you live in the same town as my little sister does!
    Thank you for the wonderful music you post. Ciao

    Anonymous — March 29, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →