Song 277: Joanna Newsom, “Bridges and Balloons” (2004)


I came to know Joanna Newsom’s “Bridges and Balloons” from Colin Meloy’s spot-on cover. They both have perfect voices for the song which, like the love in its lyrics, are strong and unpredictable. The song is full of imagery so evocative that you tend to ignore the strangeness of phrases like “a loop of metal, warp woof wimble.” The whole thing is strange but perfect.

My favorite lyric is the song’s centerpiece, and the one that gives the song its title: “The sight of bridges and balloons/Make calm canaries irritable.” Even the most steadfast and down-to-earth of us can be distracted by thoughts of flight and travel, and we’re all vulnerable to fantasy, whether it’s in the form of daydreaming or full-on delusion. Love can make people do crazy things.

Also, is this the only song in existence to reference Cair Paravel, the castle in the Narnia books? Probably.


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