The best songs are very often the ones that you can connect with on a personal level. They strike a chord with you and articulate and put music to experiences that you are intrinsically familiar with. Very often these moments of familiarity are found in the deepest moments of music when heavily emotional pieces of music seep into your consciousness, however this is not always the case and sometimes a song about a relatively lighthearted occurrence in our lives can be the one to make us stop and take notice. These artistic connections are no less powerful and touching, and can often be more accessible than heavier moments in other songs.
A song where I found this to be most evident is in the 2011 single by Swiss-German indie duo BOY, Little Numbers. The debut single of the band, and the lead single off the first album by the group, Mutual Friends, it marked Sonja Glass and Valeska Steiner as a songwriting duo to look out for.
Little Numbers is a fantastic piece of music, telling the familiar story of waiting beside your phone for the person that you have a crush on to finally contact you so that both of you can make plans for the day or night.
Every line in this song is expertly constructed and implemented perfectly to construct the clear atmosphere of hopefulness at the centre of the song.
The opening verses begin by constructing the sense of impatience and restlessness that come when you are waiting for that specific name to appear on your phone screen. The opening verse has Steiner articulating that familiar period where you are trying to busy yourself with anything to try and pass the time and distract yourself from the wait, boring activities like rearranging furniture and watching cars suddenly take on a new significance but none of them work.
“But time is hard to kill
Since I met you”
The numbers mentioned in the title of the song refer to the phone number of the person that you are waiting for. The song frequently reiterates that the seven digits of a phone number can open up a new life of romantic opportunity for you, a sentiment that will resonate with so many people who are waiting to hear from that special person.
“Seven little numbers
Baby, they could be a start
Seven little numbers
Baby, I know yours by heart”
Back in a very early blog post from last year about the singer/songwriter Dan Elliott I spoke about that sensation in the aftermath of a relationship where everything seems to remind you of the person who you used to be with. The same sensation is investigated by BOY in this track, only this time it comes from the opposite perspective, from before there is even any relationship to speak of and all the reminders that we see are greeted and indeed embraced in every day occurences.
“I read your name on every wall
On every wall, tell me
Is there a cure for me at all?”
Little Numbers is one of those songs that just connects with those who listen to it because it deals with a situation that we have all experienced at some stage in our lives, but this can often bring with it other pressures of attempting to capture it properly. Thankfully, it is done to perfection by BOY.