"Track of the Week" series Music News

TOTW #7: “Ichabod”

One of the more mischievous songs on Crooked House, “Ichabod” kicks-off the final third of the album with a darkly humorous spasm of irony and dread.

Eric has written more than a few songs about nightmares he’s had, and this is one of those. He told me about the dream once, and it’s all there in the song-lyric. He’s walking in the woods, surrounded by strange creatures and predators. A shadow approaches him — the baddest of all the creatures — and offers to make him a deal for his safety. So he makes the deal, and indeed the creature protects him for a time, until finally it springs its trap. He finds himself utterly paralyzed, unable to protect himself, as the creature closes-in on him for the kill.

You can read it how you want. It’s more or less a metaphor for selling your soul to the devil and paying the price, right? Some amount of social satire, of the political variety, is no doubt lurking in the background somewhere.

I’ve always felt like the verses have a Danny Elfman “Nightmare Before Christmas” vibe, while the crashing, punk-operatic choruses remind me of that moment from the Disney “Sleepy Hollow” cartoon where the headless horseman pitches his flaming jack-o-lantern head at poor Ichabod Crane. So we named the song “Ichabod,” after its Halloweenish sound, and its doomed protagonist.

We have a lot of fun playing this one live, and we particularly like to play it after a quiet or pretty song. Its violent dynamics have kind of a “shock and awe” effect which is terrifying, thrilling, and always gives me a chuckle, all at the same time. The recording features a quiet tambourine four-count after the first chorus, which still makes me laugh when I hear it because it’s so deliberately ridiculous. I also really enjoy Andy Jenson’s staccato bassline, and Eric’s spooky guitar-solo.