May 27 — “Honey Come Home” by The Head and The Heart

The Head and The Heart

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Honey Come Home” by The Head and The Heart (2011, from the album The Head and The Heart).
The Head and The Heart is an indie-folk/pop sextet from Seattle. They formed in 2009 and self-released their self-titled debut record in 2010. They played a lot of shows in the Seattle area, selling a ton of their CDs at those shows and in their local independent record shops. After they had sold about 10,000 copies, they were having a really hard time being able to supply the shops because they were selling them faster than they could get more. As the word of mouth spread, they ultimately ended up signing a hometown deal with Sub Pop records.

If this story sounds familiar so far, it should. It’s essentially the same thing with Fleet Foxes.

The Head and The Heart use three-part vocal harmonies a lot. Josiah Johnson and Johnathan Russell both have the same duties in the band: guitar/vocals/percussion. Charity Rose Thielen plays violin/vocals and also does a little bit of percussion. It’s usually Jonathan on “lead” vocal, but there’s always some combination of at least two of the vocalists, and they’re almost always in harmony. Charity doesn’t do lead vocals on any of the tracks, and in fact she rarely has a vocal solo, but she’s on every track. Their superbly constructed vocal harmonies, their heavy percussion, their earnest lyrics, their youthful vigor, and their frequent use of piano and violin make them a somewhat mysterious but incredibly catchy band.

I first got into The Head and The Heart when they were a featured band on eMusic one day late in 2010. The album was released digitally on January 1 of 2011, and Sub Pop announced their plans to remaster and properly release the album on Record Store Day. I got really, and I mean REALLY into that record, and it was the first time in a long time that I pre-ordered a physical release of an album. Since then, I’m happy to be back in the habit not only of ordering physical copies of albums, but of pre-ordering. Of course most albums these days leak well in advance of their release. And like I said, I already had a digital copy of The Head and The Heart, but I really wanted a physical copy. More than a year later, I still haven’t even bothered to take it out of the shrink-wrap. That bit isn’t important, but what is important is that I’m buying physical copies of things again. And that’s good. As convenient as digital copies can be, and as cost-efficient as legal digital downloads can be, nothing beats holding the liner notes in your grubby mitts while you listen to a new record. Looking at the pictures, reading the lyrics and the “thanks to” lists. Those are things that I cherish.

I should point out that I liked this record so much that I named it my second favorite album in my list of my 22 favorite non-Canadian albums of 2011.

Anyway, the band has really done well since signing to Sub Pop. They’ve done a lot of touring in support of bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Walkmen, The Decemberists, Dr. Dog, and even Dave Matthews Band. They’ve also played a bunch of festivals and their own headlining tours. Obviously, with the Sub Pop affiliation, they get world-wide distribution, music videos, promotion and airplay on college radio stations, appearances on late-night talk shows, and more. They get the attention that they deserve.

I’ve had a lot of “favorite” songs on this album, and I guess it’s currently “Honey Come Home”. This is that song:

“Honey Come Home” by The Head and The Heart

For extra credit, take in this stunning video of Charity, Josiah and Jonathan performing a stripped-down version of the song in a city park.

I love the harmonies here. The harmonies are one of the things that make this band so great, and they’re in full form here.

It’s a song, quite clearly, about an estranged couple. The guy is making a lot of efforts to make things right again so she’ll come home to him.

The kids say hello
To us in our separate homes
Darling please come home
I’ve cleaned out the fridge
Wiped the counters off
And put away my clothes

Do you remember every block
Every minute of every walk we used to take
We were young so many years ago

And I think of all this time
That we have wasted with all our fighting and I cry
Just want to die with the one I love beside me

Just a little bit later in the song, there’s this:

Oh God I love my vices but they’ve taken me to places
That I never thought I’d go and I am ready to be home
And I think of every spark every whisper in the dark, now it’s time
Just wanna die with the one I love
Just wanna die with the one I love
Just wanna die with the one I love
Just wanna die with the one I love beside me

I absolutely adore the three-part harmony the third time of those four “just wanna die with the one I love” parts. It’s when the volume on Charity’s vocal part swells. There’s something pretty great about that.

Unfortunately, there’s no violin in this song. I’m always a big fan of the violin in rock songs, and she plays violin on most songs. Just not this one.

While the song is certainly about wanting to mend the damaged relationship, there’s one little line in there that might give the song a whole different meaning. It’t the bit where he says “now it’s time”, just before the “just wanna die with the one I love (beside me)” bit. This is a really dark and probably incorrect interpretation, but those two lines together could suggest “I’m going to poison myself (or both of us) so that I die laying beside you”. I know. It’s macabre. And wrong. I’m just saying. The more logical conclusion is that he wants them to get back to where things are right so that they can grow old together.

The song closes with a reprise. Again, admitting blame for the demise of the relationship and again pleading for a reunion.

Honey come home
My stubborn ways are behind me now.

Buy The Head and The Heart from a locally owned record shop in your town, or buy it direct from Sub Pop records here. Remember that every Sub Pop mail order comes with all sorts of goodies. Stickers galore. You’ll get a Sub Pop sticker, at least one The Head and The Heart sticker, and probably a sticker for some other Sub Pop band. If you’re into plastering your car or your laptop with stickers, this is good stuff.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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