Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner Talks About the Universality of Lyrics, Songwriting, “Holy Holy” for the A.V. Club

10/28/2011 3:15 PM |


Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak discusses and performs “Holy Holy”

One of the most disappointing moments in a music journalist’s world is to interview a musician whose work has become of intimate, personal value, only to have that musician say something careless or stupid about it. For example, “Oh, those lyrics you gushed about a billion times in print? The ones that summed up the entirety of your emotional zeitgeist? Yeah, those came off the back of a cereal box.” However, the opposite, though rare, holds spectacularly true: Everyone, fans, journalists, supporters of the music in any way, goes home feeling validated when the person who makes music they love says something smart and compelling about it.

That said, watch this: An interview with Jenn Wasner of Baltimore-based duo Wye Oak, whose album, Civilian was one of the most closely cradled to indie hearts in the year 2011.Our own Jeff Klingman called it “ferociously depressing and heartbreakingly honest,” with Wasner’s lyrics addressing a universality (notably “Civilian”) that seemed like it could only be derived from something painfully specific, a general wisdom gained from personal trial. In “Holy Holy,” Wasner sings, “Holy, holy, holy/ Would you like to know me?/ A tongue without a mouth to feed/ And lonely, seeking as I kneel.” In the interview, she then describes those words as adding up to a “convincing song,” something manipulative that’s “trying to justify something to others and to yourself just because it’s something that you want.” Validation? Accomplished. If that isn’t summing up a source of universal angst, I don’t know what is.

Watch Jenn Wasner say good things, so many more good things about (and then perform) “Holy Holy,” one of the best songs off of one of the best albums of this year.