Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Mistakes of My Youth” by Eels from the 2014 album The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett on E Works/PIAS.
Throughout recording 10 studio albums in nearly 20 years, he’s called himself E, the Dog Faced Boy, and Hombre Lobo, and has appeared bearded and bandana-ed, goggled and jump-suited, bespeckled and formally attired, and in a variety of other guises, but on his 11th LP, Mark Oliver Everett takes off the mask. On The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, the Eels frontman eschews fictional narratives and rock ethos for raw introspection and individual pathos. As his “tales” explore personal loss and the potential for recovery and growth, Mark Oliver Everett hopes they might “serve as some sort of example for others. To learn from my mistakes.”
And mistakes are the theme of today’s featured song, a somber, but not overly melancholy, reflection on the errors of one’s life, of the “stupid things” he’s said, of those he’s “hurt and let down”. Instrumentally, “Mistakes of My Youth” jangles airily, as though Everett has already convinced himself to turn his path: “I can’t keep defeating myself / I can’t keep repeating the mistakes my youth”. The song’s ultimately uplifting touch isn’t E’s alone. The Cautionary Tales Orchestra swells between stanzas, following the light arrangements by long-time Eels member The Chet and the gentle rapping of Knuckles. Other Eels members — P-Boo and Koool G Murder — add to the mix. If The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett are meant to be heeded, they should also be tempered by the implied example of solidarity that Everett and his friends have put together. If and when he does decide to turn around, we know he won’t be alone.
You won’t be alone without Eels yourself for very long, as the band returns to Seattle on June 7th, performing at Moore Theatre. You can find other dates and keep up with the band on their website and Facebook page. For now, here’s the official video for today’s featured song: