“Eet” and other singable syllables [Regina Spektor]

Poetry has always been intricately connected with syllables. The differing parts of words making up the rhythm, meter, sound, and sense of many of the poems that we truly connect with. These subtle manipulations are often purposefully employed to create meaning not only within connotation and denotation, but within a something more audible–an engagement in a type of onomatopoeic literacy.

No musician plays with this type of syllabic phrasing quite like Regina Spektor.

It isn’t surprising that Spektor would be fascinated with varying aspects of language–born in the former USSR, being of Jewish descent, and living in New York City from a young age, Regina is virtually tri-lingual, speaking fluent English and Russian, and writing Hebrew.

As if three languages weren’t enough, Spektor seems to create a new syllabic language throughout her works that can not be understood outside its musical context. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is within the single Fidelity on her breakthrough album Begin to Hope (2006) with it’s chorus resonating the sounds of “har ararar ararar arararar ar art” as if to mimic the sporadic beats of the breaking heart.

What is refreshing about this type of writing is it’s freedom. Granted, at times, that freedom translates into lyrics and sounds that are child-like and innocent (perhaps to a fault), but this it is part of the whole unique package that is Regina Spektor.

Despite the unorthodox nature of this type of writing, Spektor hasn’t sold out this aspect of her music in her newest album and changed her writing style toward the mainstream like many artist do.  She has actually embraced this part of her writing to the point that she has name one of her songs Eet, after the final syllable that is repeated in multiple words throughout the tune. Despite not selling out with the writing, the newest album does approach an overly-produced quality that loses the feeling of the New York scene that was found on Soviet Kitsch.

Let’s look at Human of the Year:

Hello
Hello
Calling a Karl Projektorinski to the front of the catherdral.
You have won, dear sir
may i congratulate you first?
Oh what an honour.
Human, human of the year, you are.
Human, human of the year, you are.

Why are you so scared?
You stand there shaking in the pew.
The icons are whispering to you,
they’re just old men,
like on the benches in the park,
except their balding spots are glistening with gold.
Human, human of the year, you are.
Human, human of the year, you are.

Ahh ah ah.
You have won.

Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.

Outside the cars are beeping out a song just in your honour.
And although they do not know it,
all mankind are now your brothers.
And thus the cathedral had spoken, wishing well to all the sinners.
And with a sigh grew silent.
Until next year’s big human winner.
Outside the cars are beeping out a song just in your honour.
And although they do not know it all mankind are now your brothers.
All mankind are now your brothers.

Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.
Hallelujah.

Hello
Hello
Calling a Karl Projektorinski to the front of the catherdral.
You have won.


This poem has a simple structure and a simple cynical tone, but does it in a distinct Spektor style. It different both the disarming and cliche aspects of men receiving honor through use of satire and hyperbole. The fictional character’s name Karl Projektorinski smells of some man who is a pawn of the larger system– a project that the world is proud of creating. It is a simple and cutting poem that has a Roman Catholic aftertaste.

Don’t forget to listen close to the song Laughing With, especially if you want to know why pitchfork’s burned atheist writer decided to scrap the whole album because he didn’t like Spektor venturing to question religious cynicism.


Advertisements