Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour – S1 E5: Tiny Vessels

This blog is part 5 in an ongoing series and is the official transcript for the Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour podcast on Spotify. Listen to the episode now or go ahead and read on for the transcript below.

If you’re behind, jump back to a previous transcript here:

Introducing the Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour! (it’s a podcast)
Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour – S1 E2: Roman Candles
Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour – S1 E3: The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour – S1 E4: Company Calls

It’s episode 5 of the Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour and, you guessed it, you’re here with Death Bus. 

I thought this week would be a good time to showcase “Tiny Vessels”. 

I’m still pretty stoked on how this one turned out. It’s way moodier than Death Cab’s original recording and a little more dynamic, too. I set out to create a darker vibe and I think I did an alright job of that. 

“Tiny Vessels” is one of those songs that when I listen to it, I place myself more in the feet of the person they’re speaking of rather than from. 

I talked about this cover a little bit already on a previous blog when I recorded it and I’m hesitant to repeat much of that now, but it’s a little hard for me to talk about this song and not get into some of those same talking points. I’ll link the original blog in the transcript if you’re looking for a little more after this.

For the purpose of today’s episode, I want to hone in on two main lyrics and what they bring up for me. 

The first is the repeating of, “she was beautiful but she didn’t mean a thing to me,” and the second is, “So when you ask if something’s wrong, I’d think you’re damn right there is but we can’t talk about it now.”

And maybe I should preface this by admitting, when I was in the initial stages of getting divorced and separated from my ex-husband, suddenly Death Cab For Cutie skyrocketed to the top slot in my most listened to artists. 

How’s that for a testimonial? “This band is great for when you’re getting divorced.” 

Truly, though. 

One of the harder realizations I had while getting divorced was when I finally had to admit to myself how obvious it was that my ex simply didn’t see me the way I wished and had convinced myself he had. 

I think it’s an easy mistake to make when you’re spending more time on making a relationship work than actually thinking about what you want out of one and if the person you’re with is able to give that to you. 

I’m about as much of a hopeless romantic as I am someone adverse to showing affection which makes relationships difficult for me. On the one hand I like to believe in the fairy tale of it all, but on the other, I have trouble believing I’m deserving of it. And then somewhere in the middle I know there’s no fairy tale and it’s all work, you just need to find someone willing to put in as much or more work as you are. 

For most of the relationships I’ve been in – which hasn’t been many – I’ve sacrificed a lot of myself and my own happiness to try to appease the person I’m with, thinking the whole time that eventually the pendulum would swing back the other way and it’d all even itself out. 

But it hasn’t worked out that way for me yet so I think I’ve been going about it all wrong. 

My ex obviously wasn’t able to put in enough effort in pushing that pendulum back to me and I eventually gave up on waiting for it, which is obviously why we ultimately got divorced. 

As much as it would be easy to just be annoyed or mad or sad about that, I mostly still empathize with the fact that neither of us really knew what we were doing because we weren’t given great examples of this when we were growing up. 

I think a lot of people do what we did. Go through the motions of it, saying “I love you” but not knowing exactly what that means or what it’s really supposed to feel like when you know.

To be honest, I still don’t know. 

It’s all well and good to tell someone they’re beautiful but if that person feels like they’re putting in 90% of the effort and you’re putting in 10, it’s not going to work out. 

A million “you’re beautiful’s” and a million “I love you’s” don’t mean anything when the rest of the time you’re unable to hold a conversation, coming home late constantly slurring your speech and being generally unreliable and unhelpful in all those tedious day-to-days like preparing dinner, cleaning up the house, picking up some fresh milk so that you can enjoy your coffee in the morning. 

By the end of it all, all those “you’re beautiful’s” and “I love you’s” just felt like a mean trick that left me feeling like total shit and feeling like I’d completely wasted so much time on something that was never the way it should have been. 

And there were a lot of times I knew there was “something wrong”, but there were seldom times that it was asked. 

There never seemed to be a great time to talk about it and I never really felt like I had enough space or time by myself to really think about everything that was going on, where I was, who I was with and why. 

I remember when I made the decision to get married, a lot of what I was thinking about was, “this might be the only chance I ever get to do this.” I figured there would never be another time someone would ask, and I was worried if I waited too long, the people that should theoretically be there to support me might not be around anymore. 

Let me tell you if you’re having those kinds of thoughts about your upcoming wedding, call it off right now because there’s something wrong. 

I try to remind myself often that there’s a lesson to be learned in every experience so that I don’t get stuck in deep regret about things that have happened, but the reality is there are a ton of things in my life that I regret and going through with and that wedding was one of them.

Because even then, while the people that I theoretically thought should be there – and I mean that in a traditional wedding way – sure they were there but I’m pretty certain they didn’t support what was going on and in retrospect I really wish they’d have said more, too. But there never seemed to be a good time for that, either. 

All that said I haven’t ever really had an experience quite like the one that seems to be described in Tiny Vessels. It reads more like a one-night-stand than anything else and I can’t say I relate too much beyond the words I picked out for this episode here. 

I get way too emotionally invested in the people I’m interested in and I have a hard enough time just developing a short-term friendship for fear of losing that person and missing them entirely too much when it ends. I’d consider it a fault of mine but, it is what it is. 

As a result I know I’m more guarded than I’d like to be with people – which you might not believe if you’ve read through some of my blogs or spent some time with me on my Twitch livestreams, but that’s just because I’m making a conscious effort to change that part of me and try to be a bit more open to sharing some of these things that are really difficult to talk about. 

One of the things I think about often is how many of those experiences I regret would have turned out differently if I had done just that – been more open and more honest about what I was really thinking and feeling. 

Again I didn’t really have great examples in this department growing up so I didn’t really know any other way to be. 

I can’t change those types of things or the behavior of other people but I know I can continue to work towards being the type of person that I wished I had as an example when I was younger. I don’t always get this right, I’m a never-ending work in progress, but I can tell you that it does feel better to just be honest about all these things that have happened and to say them out loud even if I’m not sure if anyone’s really listening. 

I feel like I spent so long being quiet for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or admitting my own errors that for a while, I forgot how to speak entirely.

Sharing these parts of my life in this way are as much about acknowledging the truth and reality of them as it is about trying not to make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past and optimistically I hope that, maybe someone else listening will resonate with a tiny bit of what I’m saying, because maybe they don’t have great examples to follow either and haven’t given themselves enough time and space to think about the things they’re doing and why they’re doing it. 

This makes me think about how myself as a young girl growing up listening to music, I didn’t really feel like there were any female artists that spoke to me on a personal level. Most of my favourite songwriters were and still are male songwriters and at times I almost catch myself being hesitant to even accept female musicians in the rock space. 

This is insane even to me because if there is one thing I’d like to see more in rock, it’s more women. 

The problem I find myself is that whenever a new female rock artist is catapulted into the spotlight, I still find that they lack something genuine that I can hold on to. 

I’ll try to explain. 

As a Canadian, I’m entirely familiar with Avril Lavigne’s story and was there to witness her jump from small-town Napanee singer covering Shania Twain songs to becoming the face of female pop-punk in Canada, the States, and then everywhere else. 

It would have been impossible for me to avoid her story because the industry so eloquently wove her into the existing fabrics of Sum 41, Treble Charger, Nickelback and more – all heavy hitters here in their own right. 

Her first hit single was “Complicated” where they tried to pass her off as this moody but gorgeous skaterboarder. She was meant to be a voice of empowerment for young girls, like me, who lived and breathed this culture. 

“Complicated” didn’t jive with me and I absolutely hated her follow-up, “Sk8er Boi”. 

As a young girl, I thought they were pulling the wool over us, and poorly. There was no way this girl actually understand what it meant to be… this type of girl. 

She didn’t look like us, she didn’t dress like us – we didn’t even HAVE a Hot Topic back then, she tried to act like us but boy was it obvious she was bad at it, and on a musical level I found the lyrics uninspired, and vocally, she did nothing for me. 

Sure, she could sing, I’ll never try to claim she can’t, but she had absolutely no personality and I couldn’t understand why so many of her new fans didn’t see right through the whole charade. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there were genuinely unique and interesting artists like Gwen Stefani doing incredible work with No Doubt, there was Brody Dalle who had a voice like none other and brought real attitude to the field with The Distillers – even rivaling my favourite male punk singers, even Canadian rock artist FeFe Dobson had more fire than Avril Lavigne, but she entered the scene at about the same time and didn’t get the same kind of marketing backing as Avril did and it ultimately led to her falling behind the scenes. 

The more Avril Lavigne was pushed into my view, the more I wanted into the industry. As a teenager, I knew I could do better than what I was seeing. 

I know that’s a bit of a bold statement to say about someone who continues to completely kill it on the world stage and we’re all happy for you Avril, but there was clearly something lacking in Canadian punk rock and that void is still felt by me today. 

It becomes a frustrating line because I don’t want to sit here all day bashing Canadian female artists who have seen success in the industry especially when one of my biggest frustrations with the industry is the lack of inclusion of females both on the stage and off it. 

And clearly she speaks to a certain group of people, it’s just that I don’t feel part of that group, so the whole spectacle is completely lost on me. 

And I’m glad that she is still performing and still inspiring other young girls to get into music, that’s not nothing. 

On the other hand I constantly find myself wondering what artists like Avril Lavigne are doing to really encourage and enable young women to be part of the industry, because to me they seem to take up a whole lot of space and don’t seem to make much room for the rest of us. 

This could be my own ignorance but I have never seen an artist like Avril Lavigne speak out about the lack of inclusion of women in the music industry as a whole but specifically in the rock genre. I have never seen her talk about the abuse women face daily when working in this scene, as fans, technicians, and performers. I have never even really seen Avril outwardly promote another artist that wasn’t clearly a calculated PR move, like her recent appearances hanging out with Shania Twain who has a new documentary out right now, or her recent hang out with super star Drake. I have never seen her say she was collaborating with an unknown young female artist – she sure loves collaborating with heavy hitters like Travis Barker, Machine Gun Kelly and newly appointed fiance Mod Sun though, doesn’t she? 

I don’t really give a shit about those artists and I don’t really think Avril does either, but hey, whatever makes a headline, right? 

From the outside looking in, there is clearly a divide between men and women in the rock industry and it’s ever more apparent in Canada because our corner of the global industry is quite small. 

I’d love to see more of our breakout stars make more of an effort to really create some change in this space because their voices are so widely recognized and accepted by the public and they have access to the decision-making arms of their labels that the rest of us just don’t. 

I’ve obviously used Avril to make a point here but I really could have picked any major pop star and this would all still apply. 

I don’t really understand why they don’t make this effort. It’s not exactly complicated. 

And surely they can’t think that people wouldn’t listen to them? 

I was actually really excited when Ben announced the cover song compilation album of Yoko Ono’s work. If you haven’t heard it yet, it came out in February and it’s called Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono. It features artists like Yo La Tengo, Japanese Breakfast, The Flaming Lips and of course Death Cab who chose to do “Waiting For The Sunrise”. 

Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono

In the last episode of this podcast I talked a little bit about cover songs and my own way of tackling them, but I left out the fact that cover songs are great ways to introduce an audience to an artist they might not be aware of, or, introduce your audience to artists you enjoy so fans can get a better understanding and appreciation of what inspires your own work. 

Of course I’d heard the name Yoko Ono quite a bit growing up because The Beatles are no secret around here, but when they announced this cover compilation album I was reminded that most of the press I had read or heard about Yoko herself was often really negative. 

I’d heard a couple of her songs before but I couldn’t have told you the name of a single one. She definitely wasn’t an artist I was driven towards listening to because she was largely just the stain on John Lennon’s career that may or may not have broken up what’s considered one of the greatest pop bands of all time. 

It’s not exactly a strong endorsement. 

I took time to sit down with some of Yoko Ono’s music before the compilation was released and I was a little floored. It was the first time I’d used the word eclectic to describe a body of work and it really is. It was unique and interesting and unlike anything I’d really listened to before. I really recommend you check some of it out. I started with 1973’s “Approximately Infinite Universe” and I’d say that’s a good starting point. 

Or, start with the compilation, which is just as weird and eclectic and interesting as her original work because … I really had no idea what to expect from track to track. And I discovered some new bands in the process, too. 

Cover song compilation albums are a win-win as far as I’m concerned, but don’t take my word for it, I just spend most of my free-time doing them. 

I could go on and on about some of these things I’ve brought up today, but I suspect they’ll come up again in the future in some fashion.

Now, here’s my cover of Tiny Vessels and like a palette cleanser at the end of a big meal. I’ll follow it up immediately with Death Cab For Cutie’s original recording.

See ya next time.

Death Bus For Blondie – Tiny Vessels
Death Cab For Cutie – Tiny Vessels

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