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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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Coming Into Your Town: Okkervil River’s “Black”

Coming Into Your Town: Okkervil River’s “Black”

(p.243) Coming Into Your Town: Okkervil River’s “Black”
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

Stephen M. Deusner

University Press of Mississippi

“Black,” a compelling song from the indie-rock band Okkervil River’s 2005 album Black Sheep Boy, employs extremely dramatic, yet deceptively mutable elements: a kidnapped child who grows into a traumatized woman, an evil father who escapes punishment for his crimes, a hysterical and heartsick lover coercing a recovery. Will Sheff, the band’s singer and chief songwriter, is a complex and distinctive lyricist who incorporates literary techniques and dark cynicism into his songs while keeping them straightforward, accessible, and catchy. This chapter examines “Black,” its lyrics, and River’s music to highlight issues of agency, omission, and unreliable narration.

Keywords:   lyrics, Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy, Will Sheff, songs, Black, agency, omission, narration

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