The title of A Brokedown Melody refers to the lyrics of Jack Johnson’s song “Breakdown.” The lyrics of this song wrap many realities and metaphors around one basic concept, that time moves too quickly for people to take joy in it, it being anything as slim as a moment or wide as a life. Johnson compares time to people walking in the streets, a train, stream of consciousness, and even a melody, that perhaps these things have a spark to them that might be too bright, distracting us from a life of greater subtlety and enjoying the now.
“I need this old train to break down. Oh please just just let me break down.”
A quote from the movie A Brokedown Melody, also featured on the OST:
“I don’ wan’ surfin’ to be a (indeterminant) thing with a big hotel, elevator and pool and all dem tings, don wanna, I wanna pitch a tent and jump on the beach and catch a fire, and ya know, roast two fish, ride some waves wit’ ya friends. Tha’s da vibe an’ I don’ wan’ surfin’ to lose dat vibe. If surfin’ never had dat vibe, it would be hard for `em to get started, ya know.”
The vibe is present on the soundtrack to A Brokedown Melody, a vibe that is maintained by a style of music that isn’t necessarily idleness, but just enjoying to the fullest extent simple rhythms and melodies. Many of the artists featured on the album are already proficient in mellowdies, Jack Johnson being one, Kings of Convneience, and Matt Costa, but many artists have tracks featured on the album that seem to be breaks from their usual energetic or experiemental selves, such as Eddie Vedder, The Beta Band, and Doug Martsch, who has different intrumentation than his Built To Spill project, but similarities can still be heard between the track “Window” and other Built To Spill tracks. This similarity is its repetition of basic themes in the song, a tune that stays and sits on the beach, enveloped in its buoyance, its ebullience, its jauntyness, and by repeating, seem to focus on the now, like freezing a moment in time, breaking down, and celebrating it as it seems appropriate, whether it be to lie in the sand or ride waves or tapping a foot or sitting in my desk chair writing this review. This is an album that removes any slothful connotations to idleness. Being idle is just another way to live, with all the appreciation, just without the bustle and worry about where the next step is going to be.
Various Artists – Music for our Mother Ocean
Doug Martsch – Now You Know
Jack Johnson – Brushfire Fairytales