Eskimeaux’s “Broken Necks” was written as part of an ongoing musical dialogue with Keith Hampson, who releases music under the name Power Animal. Gabrielle Smith talked about the song’s origins in our interview last year:
There was a period in which I was wildly in love with someone who was (and still is) a wonderful, seriously talented person who was sick literally all the time. It was one thing after another with illnesses that were seriously overwhelming and that kept them bedridden for a long time and countless hospital visits. I wrote like a billion songs about feeling simultaneously in love and helpless to fix them. I think, in general, both of us were much more capable of expressing our feelings in the form of songs than face-to-face, so we would hang out together and then go home and send each other songs. In a way we had an ongoing, passive dialogue that was sometimes romantic and sometimes really hurtful to each other.
“Broken Necks” was kind of the final hurrah of that dialogue, my way of trying to break it off. Some of the lyrics are actually from a song that the other person wrote: “Nothing in this world is holier than friendship” — I was using them in an attempt to remind them of positive, hopeful feelings they had had within the negative stuff that was going on surrounding our relationship.
Power Animal’s “3 Months And A Week” — the song that “Broken Necks” was a response to — will be included on his upcoming full-length, Good Wind Pt. 1. It samples a song from Eskimeaux’s 2011 album Two Mountains, and twists the familiar refrain from one about bending over backwards to support someone else into one about not being able to support yourself at all.
It was written during a week-long hospital stay, and bears the scars of isolation and helplessness, of wanting to get better for the one that you love but having no control over your own body, of feeling simultaneously guilty and frustrated. “My only sustenance from the words you said/ But dying wondering how it fell apart,” Hampson and Smith duet, projecting the inevitable end of their unsustainable romance. “Of course it did: I was trying to fix something that I could not fix/ I was blind from the beginning/ I was fumbling round on the ice so thin, just wondering how I kept falling in.” Hampson places their struggle against a gauzy, shuffling beat that both invites you closer and keeps you at a distance, much like the relationship that inspired it. It’s a powerful and haunting piece of music, made only more so by knowing its protracted lineage — listen below.
Good Wind Pt. 1 is out later this year.