Live on KCRW 2010
“White Sky” is a stroll through uptown Manhattan, taking in the art and architecture that is available to everyone while quietly pondering the barriers between the public domain and the private property of the powerful and wealthy. The tension is faint, but it’s there: You walk through this area, always dimly aware of the immense luxury just out of view, and all the places where you don’t belong that share a border with the common culture. The boundaries are at once glaringly obvious and weirdly invisible; security guards and doormen are merely a second line of defense after the sheer banality of class stratification.
Resentment is usually mitigated by aspiration — you can get a contact high off the big money and high culture; you can dream of ways of insinuating yourself into this world. In the final verse of the song, Ezra Koenig’s protagonist pictures herself in this context:
look up at the buildings
imagine who might live there
imagining your Wolfords in a ball upon the sink there
I love that last line; it’s so specific and loaded with implication. You can read this a few ways, but it makes the most sense to me if she’s only just a visitor, her access granted by personal connection and sexual availability. It sounds cynical, but it doesn’t have to be. There are certainly worse ways of attaining social mobility.
Originally posted 6/3/2010