Fidelity Wars #8: The Decemberists – “Valerie Plame”

The Decemberists is one of the few modern indie bands that seem to have “made it”, getting signed to a major label and getting to perform on Conan O’Brien and doing well enough in terms of fans and sales. Their 2006 major label debut album The Crane Wife was to me a bit of a disappointment after their previous, mostly entertaining album Picaresque; it felt overproduced and dull with no really memorable lyrics nor melodies. It was listenable, but nothing really grabbed me about it, and I ultimately wish I had spent my money on a different CD instead.

This year the band released a three-volume series of vinyl singles under the title Always The Bridesmaid, also available to purchase through various digital music stores. And, it isn’t half bad! It doesn’t quite live up to the peaks of Picaresque, but it has some fun and bouncy songs, one of which is this week’s pick.

The Decemberists – “Valerie Plame”

Most people who give at least a passing glance at the major headlines in US news have probably picked up some about the Plame affair. In short, Valeria Plame was a super secret special agent for the CIA who got publicly outed as a super secret special agent for the CIA, and thus her cover was blown and she was unable to go on doing her super secret special agent job. And this is a love song to/about her, with the amusing first line of the chorus “Valerie Plame / if that really is your name…”

It’s a fun, bouncy little song, with some tuba and accordion, though it has a somewhat unnecessary (though not exactly unenjoyable – at least not the first few times) na na na outro clocking in at almost two minutes – which isn’t entirely unlike the na na na outro of The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude”. Perhaps it’s an homage?

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