Author: Will Sheff
Type: Fiction, poetry
Full title: I Am Very Far: The Lyrics
I read it: May 2011
Up front: this is an actual book, not just the liner notes to the Okkervil River album. Sheff’s book is a beautiful hardcover, with a golden inlay of Will Schaff’s dog duo from the album artwork. The order of the songs-as-poems is different from that of the album, giving the book its own narrative flow. I made sure to read through all the lyrics at least once before I listened to the album, just to be able to react to the words before melody permanently characterized them in my mind. Even after knowing the songs, it’s great to go back to them on the printed page. As an intriguing bonus, there are nine poems that are not part of the recorded album,* four of which have been released as singles since.** All in all, having both this book and the actual liner notes from the CD (which themselves come in a pretty little square format) make for a rich experience of this chapter of Okkervil River. And in lieu of waiting for those other songs to be released, I just took the lyrics to “White” and added chords of my own. Something tells me Will Sheff would support this.
* Curiously, the lyrics for “Weave Room Blues” show up in the liner notes between “Lay of the Last Survivor” and “White Shadow Waltz,” even though that song is not on the album. Could this ordering be one way the album was meant to be heard?
** Again, curiously, the song “Gold Faces” has been released as a single, although its lyrics do not appear in the I Am Very Far book. What can this mean? Where does the song belong? Gotta keep ’em guessing, I suppose.