Song of the Week

by Tom Swift

I heard “Water Me Down” by Vagabon for the first time while driving in my car the other day. I have been jamming on it since.

I have written before about how sometimes when a song especially grabs me I will listen to it over and over. I do not impose this — let’s call it an idiosyncrasy — on anyone else (other than my dog, who does, I must add, get the benefit of a happy-dancing owner who sometimes sings to him. Oh wait: no, my singing would not be considered a benefit, even to a dog.)

Operating with the belief that our psyche draws us to things or people or places that serve us in some way, even if often illogically, it’s useful to consider our attractions. Especially the strong ones.

Why am I attracted to this particular song at this particular time?

It’s not the artist, for I know little about her biography. Vagabon, the stage name of Laetitia Tamko, is described on the interweb as a Cameroonian-American autodidact multi-instrumentalist, a signer-songwriter, and a producer. She is 25 years old. If I have ever heard any of her other songs, I do not recall the experience.

Of the term, water down, Merriam-Webster says: “to reduce or temper the force or effectiveness of.” So the song does not take on the sort of topic that is usually going to get me jazzed.

I would not say the lyrics are especially arresting, either, though I find calm in messages about the benefits of patience. (In most things, I do well to cultivate more patience.)

So I’ll take my time, next time
And I’ll do it right
And I’ll take my time, next time

Mostly, it’s the rhythm, I believe. There is a steady intensity to “Water Me Down” that slowly increases over the course of the song. (I do wonder if this is a song that won’t have a long half-life of appeal for me; there is a hint of cheesiness in the beat, a sound that hearkens that of a mistake made by a user while interfacing with certain desktop software.)

I like the way the dancers move behind Vagabon in the video, especially as the intensity increases over the course of the song. Movement and music amplify each other, of course.

I also like that, even if I didn’t know the back-story upon my initial listens, and even before I had read the lyrics, that I could intuit that the song explores meaningful — i.e., not frivolous — things. That is me most of the time, yeah, all my friends would say.

In a press release quoted in Under the Radar magazine (August 27, 2019), Vagabon says her intention with “Water Me Down” was to “create a playground in which to explore difficult feelings with confidence, triumph, and foresight.” She wrote the song, more or less, immediately after hanging up from a frustrating phone call.

Something to consider next time you try the cable company. Or an ex. Don’t get mad — make art.