I’ve been obsessing over Andrew Bird lately; the musician I describe to my friends as “Radiohead if they grew up in the bluegrass”. His lyrics are obscure and magical I haven’t paid too much attention to their meaning, or the fact that he seems to have invented his own vocabulary. As a word nerd, I really liked his attitude on this.
AV: On Break It Yourself you have a song called “Eyeoneye,” which is obviously a made-up word. I found one or two other invented words on this album like the word “pasifizers” on the third track. What is the relationship between the music and the words on this album?
AB: As far as “Eyeoneye” goes, I kind of like songs that have words with a lot of vowels in them, words that are palindromes or nearly palindromes. I just like to remind myself that not only are melodies malleable and changeable, but so are words. Words are not a static tradition; someone had to come up with them to begin with. To me morphing words and misunderstanding words and going ahead with those misunderstandings just helps to keep the folk tradition alive. Rather than having a preservationist, purist point of view, I have kind of a free-flowing philosophy about words. I mean, “pasifizers” is no big deal; I just changed the word to make it rhyme. I remember asking my guitarist Jeremy [Ylvisaker] “Is that okay? Can I do that?” and he said, “Of course you can.”