Week 68: “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” by Broken Social Scene

For several years, I lived just up the street from a major university. And every year, around late August, the atmosphere of the neighbourhood changed as nervous first-year students moved into the many apartments and converted Victorian houses in the area.

The scene would be the same on just about every street corner; families unloading U-Hauls full of mismatched furniture, parents trying to pretend it’s not a big deal, students who can’t decide whether they want their parents to hold their hand or leave as soon as possible.

It became a sign of fall as natural as the leaves changing colour, and it was a constant reminder that every September, somebody’s life was about to change forever.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The vocal effects. Along with a flanging effect, I think they’re using a harmonizer on Emily Haines’ voice. A harmonizer is a bit like auto-tune, except instead of making sure you’re singing the right note, it figures out which note you’re singing, then splits it into two or three other tones to add harmony. But because it doesn’t know what key the instruments are in, there are some awkward and confusing major/minor moments that can sometimes turn people off this song. I think they did in on purpose; after all, what could be more awkward, confusing, and major/minor than being seventeen?

2. Violins and banjos. Together at last.

3. The repeating line that begins at 2.06: “Park that car/Drop that phone/Sleep on the floor/Dream about me.”  The whole song is like a blur of teenage experiences, and this line sums it up in a wonderful crescendo.

Recommended listening activity:

Realizing that you’re not a kid anymore.

Buy it here.