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From the Music Video Archives: Vampire Weekend, “Ya Hey”

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Matthew mentioned the new album from Vampire Weekend below, and I am over the moon about it as well. So this latest excursion into Kierkegaard’s Musical-Erotic is a response to that.

Yes, the chorus for this song is, at first, somewhat annoying. At first. As one commentator wrote, it sounds as if it’s being sung by mice. I post it because, well, I like it anyway. You will grow to love it, too. If for no other reason, the lyrics are a good deal more interesting than most:

Through the fire and through the flames
You won’t even say your name
Through the fire and through the flames
You won’t even say your name
Only “I am that I am”
But who could ever live that way?
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo

Vampire Weekend here refers, of course, to Exodus 3:14, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

Contrast these lyrics with Jean-Luc Marion riffing on Heidegger and Exodus, from God Without Being:

The principal denomination of GⓍd as and by Being cannot—let us point out the evidence straightaway—be justified by pure and simple recourse to the verse from Exodus 3:14. Indeed, only one’s conceptual weakness permits the attribution to the “metaphysic of Exodus” of the dignity and the merit of a radical innovation. Otherwise, Saint Thomas would have stated only the common, directly biblical thesis—which, as much from the point of view of Gilson as from any other, could not be defended. May a few remarks therefore suffice here to mark the disparity between the biblical text and the “metaphysic of Exodus.” (a) The formula from the Hebrew, ehyeh asher ehyeh, can be understood as a positive statement, of the type, “I am the one who is,” but doubtless first as a refusal to specify further of what ”Being” it is a question, in the way of a statement of the type, “I am who I am”, thus did Gilson himself recognize that, understood literally, Exodus 3:14 offers “the only formula that says absolutely nothing and that says absolutely everything.”

And Here’s Ezra (lead singer):

Outside the tents, on the festival grounds
As the air began to cool, and the sun went down
My soul swooned, as I faintly heard the sound
Of you spinning “Israelites”
Into “19th Nervous Breakdown”

Be sure to check out the cork … was that planned? Was it luck? Grace?

Judge for yourselves!

Comments

  1. Matthew Lickona says:

    It’s odd-sounding, that chorus, but I didn’t find it annoying. I think they’re going for a sound that’s not of this world, askew.

    The whole dang song is amazing, starting from the opening:

    Oh, sweet thing
    Zion doesn’t love you
    And Babylon don’t love you
    But you love everything…

    The whole dang album.

  2. Notrelatedtoted says:

    First off, I’ve never been a huge fan of their music. I liked it well enough, but never enough to really listen. Based on your kollective recommendation, I gave it a listen. Thanks, korrektiv!

    Second, how about Everlasting Arms? I was made to live without you….. Hold me in your everlasting arms. Interesting stuff. Even the title is intriguing.

    As for the chorus in Ya Hey, it sounds awfully close to Yahwey, no? As sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

  3. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    Oh, you saint. Thank you for both the song and the essay-ette, Mr Finnegan. Until now, I had never had any interest in Vampire Weekend or any knowledge of Jean-Luc Marion. You have begun to cure this dual deficiency.

    [U]nderstood literally, Exodus 3:14 offers “the only formula that says absolutely nothing and that says absolutely everything.”

    I’d been vaguely aware of the distinction between ‘I am the one who is’ and ‘I am who I am’, but had never really paused to think about the difference between the key-like ‘positive statement’ of the former and the mystic tautological tease of the latter.

    TAGGED WITH…?

    Yes, the chorus for this song is, at first, somewhat annoying. At first. […] I like it anyway. You will grow to love it, too.

    Yep, I’m getting there. Give it about 24-48 hours, and I expect to be right there with you. And the gorgeousness of the rest of the song is easy to appreciate.

    Be sure to check out the cork … was that planned? Was it luck? Grace?

    It is impossible to say.

    Thanks again, sir.

  4. Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says:

    Gah! Really, really working on reducing the number of obsessions in my life, and you all come along with this. I could say “please, no more,” but I wouldn’t really mean it.

    On my way to Amazon MP3 store.

    Thanks, Korrektiv!

  5. Did you happen to see the article in the NY Times in which Koenig likened their first three albums to Brideshead Revisited?

    “The naïve joyous school days in the beginning. Then the expansion of the world, travel, seeing other places, learning a little bit more about how people live. And then the end is a little bit of growing up, starting to think more seriously about your life and your faith. If people could look at our three albums as a bildungsroman, I’d be O.K. with that.”

    http://tinyurl.com/po8d82x

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