Tuesday, January 19, 2010

East Hastings featured by Godspeed You! Black Emporer

God Speed You! Black Emperor is a Canadian Band that does work with integrating stories of locals into their music as well as intentionally making long and fluid narratives out of their predominantly instrumental pieces.

East Hastings" is an instrumental track by Godspeed You! Black Emperor on F♯A♯∞ released on June 9, 1998. Arguably their most iconic track, It is just under 18 minutes long and comprises four distinct movements, each individually named. They are "'...Nothing's Alrite in Our Life...' / Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)", "The Sad Mafioso...", "Drugs in Tokyo" and "Black Helicopter". The track takes its name from a poor area in Vancouver, British Columbia and focuses on the settings in East Hastings.
I actually recommend that you listen to the music with out watching the cheesy pictures, because the song is re-creating the story of DTES for you.Sadly I can only find two of many clips regarding the dtes from this album, but if you listen to all the clips you get an interesting medley of instrumental story telling as well as recorded sound from people, stores and sermons from the dtes.

I am going to post a link to a you-tube video of a picture medley done to the first of these songs inspired by Vancouver's own east hasting street and downtown east side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9USJgkruTw (east hastings)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aLjup934Rk&feature=related(dead flag blues)

This is another example of a narrative song by Godspeed You! Black Emperor that works in local stories and voices at the beginning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7eo8tGJUIc and part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vpzge_WaT8&feature=related
and another example of narrative song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fiNI3XZO8&feature=related

I know a lot of their songs are long but just listening to the first few minutes in most of the songs gives you a pretty good idea of their style of narrative. I just thought this was interesting in regards to how we were talking about how Cities perform and as a performance medium i feel its approach brings something unique and valuable that we as people can connect to. If you like this check out their song storm, its an amazing example of instrumental story building, and its my favorite.


  1. Thanks for alerting us to this, Megan. I'll be sure to check out the links you provide.