"Blue in the broad light of day"

Yesterday, I called The Long Winters the band you need to know. Today, I’ll discuss the album I’d recommend starting with. Although I love all of The Long Winters’ records, this was the first one I heard. If you hate The Long Winters, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow. Also, shame on you.

The Long Winters’ 2006 effort, Putting the Days to Bed, sat quietly on my iPod for almost four years before it became one of my most treasured albums. It encompasses everything that makes the band — and music in general — such a joy to listen to: catchy melodies, honest lyrics, and ultimately, a sense that no matter what you’re going through, everything is going to be OK.  

With eleven tracks totaling just 38 minutes, Putting the Days to Bed is a concise, yet highly memorable, indie rock record. The longest song is barely over four minutes, but rest assured, the album’s brevity belies the depth found within every song. A paragon of its genre, Putting the Days to Bed makes a brilliant addition to any music collection.

John Roderick’s lyrical prowess sits atop a long list of reasons why I love The Long Winters. As I took notes for this article during what must have been my hundredth listen, I found myself wanting to write down almost every line. It’s not just the words themselves that are great, but also the way they are delivered. Putting the Days to Bed is full of wonderful lines begging to be sung at full volume.  

Like me, I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to decide on a favorite. It might be the horn-backed triumph of “Teaspoon” (I know I wasn’t made to play on a team), or the guarded cries of “Hindsight” (I’m bailing water and bailing water because I like the shape of the boat).

Other days, you might prefer the cynicism of “Rich Wife” (Now tell me, is your high horse getting a little hard to ride?), or the quiet longing of “Seven” (Distance helps me only so much…).

Personally, I always come back to the upbeat vulnerability of “Ultimatum” (I hope I can keep seeing you just as long as you don’t say you’re falling in love). I could pour over each song line by line, but that’s a journey best taken on your own. We’ll compare notes when you’re ready.  

You could argue that Putting the Days to Bed is an exercise in heartbreak, and in a way, you’d be correct. None of the romances here seem destined to succeed. In fact, many are already a thing of the past. But, if all you had was the music, the singer’s plight would probably go unnoticed. Despite its lyrics, this album is soaring, infectious, and will have you rocking out within seconds of pushing PLAY. That’s what makes Putting the Days to Bed such a wonderful paradox. These are celebratory songs about broken hearts, and the result is a cathartic journey designed to lead us out of dark places. 

I often find myself thinking no matter how tough life gets, it’s hard to feel down as long as music exists. Putting the Days to Bed may feature the anguished lover, but the music reminds us not to forget just how incredible life is, heartbreak and all. There may be pain in the moment, but this is an album that encourages us to sing and dance our way through both the best and worst of times. It tells us to look at the big picture and find the comfort and beauty that resides there. What seems to be an exercise in heartbreak, then, is really a lesson in perspective. That’s what makes Putting the Days to Bed required listening. It shows us that, as painful as love can be, it’s a beautiful thing all the same.  

You can buy Putting the Days to Bed on iTunes.