“Head Underwater” – Jenny Lewis

You can’t write about Jenny Lewis without throwing out the obligatory mention of how her music sounds straight out of the 1970s. Her songs would have fit in nicely with all the stuff we heard from the backseat of our parents cars.[1] Sun-drenched, breath-taking, AM-radio pop that owes a huge debt to Fleetwood Mac.

The beautiful sounds Lewis fills her songs with have always masked deeply honest, often painful, and occasionally dark lyrics. When I first heard this song, I took the phrase “head underwater” to mean some kind of rebirth, whether spiritual or metaphorical. And I still think that is partially the case. But dive into the lyrics a little more and it’s clear she is singing about some awfully dark times. A context in which putting your head underwater takes on a far more sinister meaning.

But damn if it’s not jaw-droppingly gorgeous. And that last line, where she says she’s free at last…man, that’s just a glorious line.

Bonus points: In addition to all the music of my youth stuff, this song, and Lewis’ album The Voyager, was produced by Ryan Adams. Who was a very important part of the music I listened to this year.

I put my head underwater baby,
I held my breath until it passed
Crossed my fingers and concentrated
I closed my eyes and I was free at last

20 – “Black And White” – Parquet Courts
19 – “I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up)” – School Of Seven Bells
18 – “We Only Come Out At Night” – Sugar Stems
17 – “Too True To Be Good” – Dum Dum Girls
16 – “Milwaukee” – The Both
15 – “New Skin” – Torres
14 – “Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
13 – “Fall In Love” – Phantogram
12 – “Spinners” – The Hold Steady
11 – “Rent I Pay” – Spoon
10 – “Teenage Wasteland” – Wussy
9 – “Goshen ’97” – Strand Of Oaks
8 – “Lazaretto” – Jack White
7 – “Honey Do” – Beverly

  1. If you, like me, had young parents.  ↩